South Florida's teen entrepreneurs have a special track in the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge, and the deadline to enter this year's contest is Saturday. The teen contest is generally quite popular -- there's nothing that compares to teen entrepreneur passion and creativity.
As part of the Challenge, we follow past winners for years to come. Here's a look-back at how our 2010 winners from the High School Track contest have done. Two of them are still in high school and already serial entrepreneurs:
David Pinsky won the 2010 Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge as a sophomore at Cypress Bay High in Weston for his plan called Apple Spritz, a spray to keep apples fresh. The next year, 2011, he was among the top six finalists of the Challenge for his next business, called Text Weston, a coupon service in the Weston area for subscribers who opt in by texting “Weston.”
“I've put Apple Spritz on hold right now but I am working on some partnerships with Text Weston, expanding the business locally and working with some guys out of state,” Pinsky, now a senior, said recently. He explained that national expansion to other cities is in the plans.
"The last few years since winning the Challenge have been really interesting and I've learned so much. .. I hope to continue with my entrepreneurial endeavors in college,” said Pinsky, who also publishes a podcast on business and entrepreneurship aimed at teens. Now a senior at Cypress Bay, he’s been accepted at the University of Florida and plans to attend in the Fall.
Will there be a Text Gainesville in the future? “I've owned that domain for quite a while now,” he said. “I just have to see what kind of opportunity there is in Gainesville.”
Ryan Leibowitz, who was a junior when he won second place for his plan to offer student tours of college campuses, is now a freshman at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He’s pursuing a BS in economics with a concentration in management and a specialty in entrepreneurship and innovation. He has been working on projects that deal with the intersection of business and nonprofit/social sector work.
With a campus group called Social Impact Consulting, for instance, he serves as a student consultant and provides pro-bono consulting services to Philadelphia organizations with social missions.
Also, through a Management 100 course, he worked with a group of nine other students to raise funds and awareness for a Philadelphia area nonprofit called the University City Hospitality Coalition, which provides services to the homeless and needy. “Through the program, we were able to learn leadership and management skills and then apply them directly to the project. At the end of the semester, we raised over $3,500 for this nonprofit,” Leibowitz said.
Leibowitz says he has used entrepreneurial and business skills in both of these projects. "My own experiences with the Herald Business Plan Challenge provided me with a unique background to approach these projects. I have also learned many entrepreneurial skills such as marketing and financial modeling and planning through these projects, which hopefully I'll be able to apply to another entrepreneurial endeavor soon,” he said.
He soon expanded to luxury boats and planes, and then, well, his business really took off.
“Just like you see from my new website, www.jasendelgado.com, I've been expanding into real estate (photographing luxury condos and rentals in Brickell and Miami Beach), events (such as baby showers and fashion shows), and fashion photography with a pretty well-known clothing company called Betsy Moss," Delgado said. "I also have been starting to do photo shoots with a car shop called MC Customs, which customizes several well-known professional baseball players' cars from all over the MLB so that's pretty exciting. Pretty much I'm full speed ahead with photography as the automotive side keeps me busy but I'm just as capable to do any other style of photography."
Delgado, who taught himself photography when he was 13 and studied entrepreneurship through the Network for Teaching Entepreneurship (NFTE South Florida) at his school, plans to attend Florida International University in the fall and study business. “I also have a new business I'm currently working on in the retail industry and it's basically selling women's fashion accessories online such as bracelets, earrings, etc." He says the company, upTrend Fashion, will be launching soon at www.uptrendfashion.com.
Congratulations to these teen entrepreneurs.
See an update on the 2011 winners here.
And high school entrepreneurs out there, let's see what you got. You do not have to have an operating business to enter. Enter your business plan by Saturday, March 24, to firstname.lastname@example.org