Fourteen junior high school student entrepreneurs from Palatine Township Elementary School District 15 recently underwent a "Shark Tank" experience, asking for financial support of their business from a panel of local investors.
The event was part of the district's Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!), a national program that guides students through the process of starting a real business.
The class is facilitated by the Palatine Area Chamber of Commerce
The work includes developing a business plan, pitching it to an investor panel, obtaining funding, launching the venture and managing media campaigns. E-commerce, web development, sales events and trade shows are also part of the process.
At the event, students had five minutes to pitch their business plans to a panel of "investors," comprising six local business representatives. The panel evaluated the plans and split $6,000 donated by local businesses among the students.
Funding was based on the feasibility of the business plan and the student's presentation to the panel. Each entrepreneur received at least $100 for their business.
The top investment went to Gautham Velupally, whose company, Burfi Thins, manufactures and sells organic Indian-style brittle treats. Samarth received $1,150 from the investment panel and will represent District 15 in May at the YEA! national competition in Rochester, New York.
Launched in 2004 at the University of Rochester, YEA! focuses on themes of driving innovation, viewing the world in new ways, recognizing opportunities, valuing risk taking, networking, providing solutions and creating value.
With the help of local business mentors, students learn to recognize the power of their ideas, and develop the skills necessary to turn those ideas into meaningful enterprises.
Investors included Ritzenthaler Family Foundation, Amita Health, Daily Herald Media Group, Northrop Grumman Corp., Lavelle Law, Andigo Credit Union, Walmart Foundation and Pan American Bank & Trust.
In addition to Gautham, students participating in the investor panel and their businesses included Sean Ross, Sean Ross Realty; Rashmi Alawani, Blend Bar; Kai Potuznik and Kazi Rahman, KA Tech Services; Varun Kumar, Airry; Ansh Aggarwal, Factl; Kuldeep Debath, Shop at Local; Vibhav Prabhakar, Pract Instruments; Taylor Tarman and Arula Sadalage, Purity; Rohan Kapoor, ARCC; Naishanth Ramanujam, ProOrganizer; Harini Sivakumar, Heart2Art; Rhea Makkuni, MyHealthBot; Sammy Seetharam, MyCounselor.
For more information, visit http://www.palatinechamber.com/pages/YEAYoungEntrepreneursAcademy1.