Photo by Jasen Delgado/JasenDelgado.com
About 100 supporters gathered last night at the Miami Dade College Idea Center for Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship’s (NFTE) LaunchED Challenge to cheer on four accomplished young entrepreneurs. The “shark tank” styled event allowed the four students to pitch their businesses to a panel of entrepreneurs and executives for a chance to win a portion of $11,000 in seed capital to invest in their business.
These students were selected from 21 participants in Startup Summer, an intense eight-week teen business incubator organized by NFTE at the Idea Center for advanced high school entrepreneurs under support from the Citi Foundation. Over the summer, each student received a laptop, $1,000 in seed capital, a $1,000 stipend and intense one-on-one mentoring and support to launch the business.
At last night’s event, the young entrepreneurs were judged on the viability of their business and progress achieved over the summer. The winner, Khareem Oliver (pictured above), is a 17-year old student from Coral Gables Senior High School. He was awarded $5,000 for his business Find or Found, an innovative approach to helping pet owners locate their lost pets through a special technology-enabled tag, linked to an app and a website. Said Albert Santalo, founder of CareCloud who was one of the judges: “Khareem’s business stood apart because of its scalability and innovative approach. The market for pet products is enormous.”
The other finalists included Gabriel Martinez, who won $3,000 for his school supply vending machine business GAMV; Janeiya Henderson who won $1,500 with Pebbles Tutoring; and Justin Rivas who also won $1,500 for his basketball tournament company Top Level Athletics.
In addition to Santalo, judges included Natalia Martinez, founder of the Awesome Foundation in Miami; Luke Palacio, managing director for Southeast US - Citi Private Bank; and Wifredo Fernandez, director of CREATE Miami at Miami Dade College.