Miami entrepreneur and college student Andres Cardona took home the big win at the regional finals for the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards last week. The regional finals for the contest, in which college students from 50 countries ultimately vie for a prize of more than $500,000 in cash and services, was sponsored by Entrepreneurs' Organization South Florida and hosted at the Idea Center at Miami Dade College.
Six finalists were chosen to participate in a live pitch competition Nov. 19 at MDC’s Idea Center, which also included a keynote speech by Peter Kellner, venture capitalist and co-founder of Endeavor Global. For winning, Cardona received $1,000 in cash and $20,000 in services such as web, accounting and marketing from EO South Florida professionals. Cardona will now go on to compete against 25 student entrepreneurs at the GSEA national finals in the spring, which will also be hosted at the Idea Center, and a $10,000 cash prize. The winner of the national competition will go on to complete in the global finals in Bangkok Thailand in May, with a $40,000 cash prize plus services.
Cardona, a Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship alum and now a finance major at Florida International University, created the business plan for and began working on a youth basketball academy called Elite Basketball Academy (http://www.eliteballacademy.com/) while in high school because the student athlete was passionate about coaching young athletes and found a big need in the market. He's continued to grow the academy while a full-time college student, and now the academy has nearly 200 students/athletes. It's the largest of its kind in Miami, he said.
“Our mission is to instill success principles in the youth of our community using the sport of basketball as a tool. We emphasize academic success, hard work, dedication, and a no-excuse mentality in order to achieve success. We focus on creating habits that will be everlasting and always present in the minds of our disciples,” said Cardona, who has also been honored by NFTE and Ernst & Young. Within three years, Cardona hopes to expand nationally, he said.
“This competition is special because the winners are not chosen solely on profit potential or the financial merits of their business plans, but largely based on their entrepreneurial journey,” said Mark Sanna, National GSEA Chairman, and EO-South Florida’s past president. “What challenges did these student entrepreneurs overcome, or what problem are they solving for others? Compelling questions like these play a big role in the competition, and we know there are many great stories like this in South Florida.”
EO-South Florida is one of the world’s largest EO chapters, with 180 members whose businesses account for more than $1 billion in annual revenues and 30,000 jobs in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. EO-South Florida and the Idea Center, Miami Dade College's entrepreneurship hub, have partnered to support entrepreneurial innovation for MDC student entrepreneurs and other South Florida startup businesses. To learn more about the GSEA competition or EO-SOFLO, visit www.eonetwork.org.
Photo above is Andres Cardona presenting his business at the event and to the left is Mark Sanna of EO-SOFLO.