Ventura students pitch business ideas, learn about entrepreneurship firsthand (16 photos)

Competitors+%28from+left%29+sophomores+Ashley+Jones%2C+Carlos+Cohen%2C+Nathan+Staples%2C+Spencer+Nichols%2C+Allie+Olson%2C+and+junior+Josh+Ward+wait+to+present+their+speeches+at+a+competition+for+aspiring+entrepreneurs.+Credit%3A+Stevi+Pell%2FThe+Foothill+Dragon+Press

Stevi Pell

 

Competitors (from left) sophomores Ashley Jones, Carlos Cohen, Nathan Staples, Spencer Nichols, Allie Olson, and junior Josh Ward wait to present their speeches at a competition for aspiring entrepreneurs. Credit: Stevi Pell/The Foothill Dragon Press
Competitors (from left) sophomores Ashley Jones, Carlos Cohen, Nathan Staples, Spencer Nichols, Allie Olson, and junior Josh Ward wait to present their speeches at a competition for aspiring entrepreneurs. Credit: Stevi Pell/The Foothill Dragon Press

Fourteen students from Ventura County competed in front of 22 judges and a room full of Ventura residents as they pitched their business ideas for cash prizes on Thursday night at Ventura City Hall.

Students had to audition to get to this final round of the Young Entrepreneur Development Program, and “sell their vision.” Ideas ranged from safe driving gadgets, to recycled material backpacks, to gaming devices, to community gardens.

Participants separated into categories based off their age, and an overall winner was awarded $250.

This kickoff event was sponsored by Ventura Ventures Technology Center and the Ventura Education Partnership.

Foothill alumni Sean Bhardwaj (’05), who organized this competition, was pleased to see his idea in action.

“This is meant to stimulate students’ interest in entrepreneurship, as well as provide programs that distinguish local schools and students on a national and global level,” he said.

Ventura Education Partnership board member Adela Trainor said, “this competition prompts collaboration between our businesses, community, and schools and gives our students the chance to inspire us.”

Keynote speaker Dave Compton, who makes pitches professionally, addressed the students with words of advice before their presentations, encouraging them to “sell their visions” and “sell it, not tell it.”

“Pitches are idea theater. You have to convey what makes you different. Don’t keep that light that you have underneath a bucket. Even if you don’t win, don’t give up,” he told them.

DATA sixth grader Nicholas Burdick was a participant in the competition.

“I’ve always wanted to have an idea on how to make money in the future. This is an opportunity,” Burdick said.

These opportunistic students had anywhere from a few months to a few weeks to put together their presentations, which consisted of a three-minute speech and nine-slide PowerPoint.

All-around winner with the overall highest score was De Anza Academy Technology & the Arts (DATA) sixth grader, Micah Wilcox, with his idea, “uGame,” a product that connects videogame consuls to smartphones through Bluetooth and allows for better graphics than smartphone apps have.

The victors at the high school level were Foothill students Joshua Ward, Tanner Woodward, and Ravi Sajjan, who made a group proposal for Prograde Solutions.

They explained how “third-party bots enter an individual’s computer” and how their idea would prevent the bots from hurting companies. This idea is meant to “massively alter the internet from being human designed to human functioned, basically changing the ones and zeros [of a computer] to actual people.”

DATA student Peyton Erickson, who was the winner at the middle school level, proposed a Gadget Key, which is a box that “holds your keys utilizing technology.” Her box would ideally eject the wanted key with the push of a button, and be slim enough to fit into a pocket and hold the desired amount of keys.

Ventura College student David Williams won the junior college division and presented the judges with his idea concerning sustainable grocery foods.

“The problem is there is not enough good food to go around, and especially since Proposition 37 failed, Ventura needs local, strong, sustainable food,” Williams said.

Foothill sophomore Carlos Cohen remarked on how wonderful it was to meet people in their community he may not have otherwise known.

“We’re all friends here. It’s a really fun experience and opportunity,” Cohen said.

Ventura High School sophomore Ashley Jones agreed.

“I thought it was a great idea to share public ideas on a project! We are here to impact a community,” she said. “I made so many new friends; everyone is so friendly!”

Credit: Stevi Pell/The Foothill Dragon Press

What do you think?