Four teams pitched their business concepts to a panel of executives in the Next Generation Entrepreneurs Finale Competition. The top three teams went home with college scholarships.
Next Generation Entrepreneurs (NGE), a program of the Pinellas Education Foundation, is open to all Pinellas County High School students. NGE allows students to brainstorm new business concepts and bring innovative ideas to market under the guidance of business mentors and coaches in the community. This year, the Pinellas Education Foundation partnered with Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay’s 3DE program to reach more students in the classroom.
3DE is an instructional model implemented in Pinellas County high schools to expand economic opportunity for all students through core competency development and business case methodology. 11th-grade students in the 3DE model apply what they have learned working with 12 local and national partners to create their own viable business with their year-long project.
The NGE Finale Competition featured four top teams: three from Dunedin High School and one from St. Petersburg High School. Each team arrived, set up their business concept displays, and had an opportunity to network and provide a little background on developing their ideas before they pitched to a panel of executives and the audience.
During the pitches, each team thoughtfully and passionately described their business ideas. A common theme between all four teams: making sure their teenage peers felt comfortable in their bodies.
Natalie Walker from St. Petersburg High School won the grand prize of a $5,000 college scholarship for their business ‘Whole Solutions,’ a software application with new capabilities to scan products in grocery stores and alert consumers if it contains a food allergy. The pitch stressed the importance of allowing individuals to ‘live a life wholly’ without being overcome by diet culture and focusing strictly on food allergies.
Cameron Walsh, Cynthia Green, and Arlen Martinez from Dunedin High School were the first runner-up team for the self-care company ‘Take Care,’ which creates homemade lotions and candles; they went home with a $3,500 scholarship. The second runner-up, winning a $1,500 scholarship, was Melissa Baltazar from Dunedin High for her custom jewelry business, Amour de Miel.
The fourth team and honorable mention of the competition were a group of three students also from Dunedin High School, Alita Guastalli, Victoria Kabamba, and Jennifer Hernandez, who created the business ‘Originally Fitted’ a size-inclusive clothing company focused on comfortability.
The NGE Finale Competition was made possible by several community sponsors, including Verizon, Ditek, the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, and the School District Education Foundation Matching Grant Program.
“We are so incredibly proud of our 3DE students from Dunedin and St. Petersburg High School who have worked tirelessly to bring their businesses to life,” said Olivier Millour, Manager, Partnerships & Development for Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay. “We are also proud to continue our long-standing partnership with the Pinellas Education Foundation through 3DE and are grateful to them for providing this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to our students.”
“Innovation is one of our core beliefs. Supporting students, in partnership with Junior Achievement’s 3DE Schools, allows us to amplify their curriculum hopefully inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs,” said Dr. Stacy Baier, CEO of the Pinellas Education Foundation.
‘Whole Solutions’ Software App
‘Take Care’ Self-Care Company
‘Amour de Miel’ Jewelry Company
‘Originally Fitted’ Clothing Company