Look out Knoxville business! You have some serious competition.
Seventeen entrepreneurs have been born out of Vine Middle Community School’s summer program “Guppy Tank”, and they know the business landscape of our city. These rising sixth through ninth graders worked with business coaches to research concepts and the local business environment to create their own business plans over the last three weeks.
On Wednesday, June 24, parents and families, community members, CEOs and other local business representatives gathered at Vine to watch students present their startup business plans. The students were grouped into teams of four, and one after another tried their best to impress the judges and win the grand prize of $350. But the real prize was the lesson that you only get as much as you give.
Everyone (including the judges) was abuzz wondering which team would take first place because all of the teams were winners. Business plans presented included a social network where you can shop, custom compression pants for athletes, Hawaiian ice treats, and custom socks sold only in vending machines.
So many innovative ideas here! But “Brrilliant Hawaiian Ice” took first place with their snow cones, which were actually sampled by the judges following the presentation. Congratulations to the founders Xavion Bogus, Brayden Crawford, Sade Gary, and Zneyah McLaughlin!
Plans were judged on a variety of criteria including product creativity, unique selling points, promotion, target market, return on investment, and clarity of presentation.
Beyond learning the practices, concepts, and current state of business, participating students really gained a sense of ownership. Many of the students said they want to continue to pursue entrepreneurship and be their own boss someday.
One rising seventh grade student who showed particularly strong interest in entrepreneurship got a special surprise. Christian Crawford was offered a year scholarship to the Knoxville Chamber’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy, where he can continue to grow his skills. This is a huge accomplishment because the academy typically only accepts high school students.
Vine Middle Magnet Academy Community School and Great Schools Partnership could not have done this great summer program without sponsorship and support from Junior Achievement, Knoxville Chamber, Knox County Schools, SunTrust, 21st Century, and the dedicated community members of Vine’s steering committee. Thank you all!