Three New England Students Split $3000 in Business Pitch Competition

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NFTE New England Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge winners advance to national championship in September

In the current uncertain climate, young people are realizing more than ever that entrepreneurship offers an opportunity for personal empowerment. - Dr. J.D. LaRock, President and CEO, NFTE

Schools may be closed, but that didn’t stop these highly motivated young entrepreneurs from refining their business plans and preparing their pitches for the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) New England Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. Despite logistical obstacles stemming from the pandemic, this annual competition, the culmination of NFTE’s yearlong entrepreneurship curriculum, took place on time—and online. Participating students presented their original business ideas by video to a panel of esteemed judges, who named three winners. The first and second place winners, who will receive $1500 and $1000, respectively, advance to NFTE’s National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge in September, where they will compete for a grand prize of $12,000. The third-place winner will receive $500.

  • 1st Place: Jose Rodriguez, 16, from The Met School, won with a business pitch for Tasium, which creates fidget-infused clothing that helps those with autism stay focused and concentrated in their daily lives.
  • 2nd Place: Laysa Mourao, 15, from Framingham High School, won with her pitch for Equip, a cleat guard that allows athletes to walk with cleats while protecting their studs and keeping their surroundings clean.
  • 3rd Place: Alexander Arabadzhiev, 15, from Barnstable High School, won with a pitch for Home Cookin’ Hub, which provides a variety of local and ethnic cuisine made by local “home chefs.”

“In the current uncertain climate, young people are realizing more than ever that entrepreneurship offers an opportunity for personal empowerment,” said NFTE president and CEO, Dr. J.D. LaRock. “Employers look for candidates with an entrepreneurial mindset, which the NFTE curriculum fosters. Whether or not they ultimately run their own companies, our students are being set up to succeed, and we are eager to support their endeavors.”

Student business pitches were judged by a panel of experts that included:

  • Lauren Beitelspacher, Babson College
  • Alex Ferris, EY
  • Malinda Lawton, Santander Bank
  • LaVonia Montouté, EdVestors

The NFTE New England Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge was presented by EY, Microsoft and Santander, with signature support from HOPR Ventures, associate support from Netscout, and additional support from Mark Andrade.

About NFTE
Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) is a global nonprofit that activates the entrepreneurial mindset and builds startup skills in young people from under-resourced communities. Reaching more than 100,000 middle and high school students annually, NFTE works with schools and community partners in 25 U.S. states and 10 countries around the world. Leveraging classroom teachers and volunteers from top-tier companies, NFTE’s research-based model teaches students how to identify a business opportunity and launch a business; helps them learn about the range of jobs and occupations available to them; and develops their “entrepreneurial mindset” — a set of skills including creativity, adaptability, communication, and collaboration that leads to success in any career. Since 1987, NFTE has educated 1.2 million young people worldwide, helping thousands launch businesses and companies of all sizes. Learn more at

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