On Thursday, June 1, aspiring young entrepreneurs Joseph Zirkel, Naman Shakrani, James Curran and Stephen Gavrielidis from W.T. Clarke High School in Nassau County led their team and school to first place victory in the final round of Junior Achievement of New York’s 10th Annual High School Business Plan Competition. Their proposed idea for an alternative solution to traditional applications of pavement – Simplastic – would utilize custom designed plastic cells to simulate a traditional pavement surface.
Simplastic stood out from the six other finalists’ ideas centered on this year’s theme, Think Local. Aiming to create a significant niche in the home improvement space – as well as municipalities for custom parking lots, bike paths and sidewalks – Simplastic ultimately hopes to replace deteriorating roads with more durable high-density polyethylene (HDPE) material. Members of the team each received a cash prize of $2,500 and a trophy for their school.
During the concluding round of an intensive three-month business education program and competition, seven finalist teams presented their proposals for innovative products and services that improve their communities to a panel of high profile business judges at the all-day event held at KKR’s offices in midtown New York. Each team made it through the final round after rising to the top of a competitive pool of 180 teams (comprised of 700 students) following a series of knock-out preliminary rounds.
Team TranSPORT’s Ryan Adell, Joseph Ribaudo, Zach Wenzler and Nick Fazio of Kings Park High School in Suffolk County received $1,500 each as the second place team. TranSPORT would provide a solution to tight-schedule transportation needs in Suffolk County by targeting parents of athlete children who need rides to and from sporting events.
The third place prize went to team SurPrize from Leadership and Public Service High School in Manhattan. Students Kayleen Pena, Endi Trimi, Larissa Richard and Amanda Ozman competed in the final round of the competition for the second year in a row. Their business idea, SurPrize, is a marketing agency that specializes in helping local companies build brand awareness on social media by creating fun and engaging “surprise-and-delight” activations. Each team member received cash prizes of $750.
Recognizing the growing demand for high school-level business and entrepreneurship education programs that are rigorous, relevant, and applicable in the real world, JA New York developed an intensive, high stakes, business plan competition program for teens ten years ago. Students participate in a 3-month long entrepreneurship boot-camp experience where they conceive, research and write a feasible and innovative business plan to launch and market a BIG idea. The long-term goal of the program is to encourage students to consider entrepreneurship as a pathway to economic success, as well as inspire them to think entrepreneurially to drive innovative approaches to solving our most pressing business and social issues.
In honor of the 10th year of this program, JA New York invited alumni of the Business Plan Competition to attend in order to give the current JA students an opportunity to network with their predecessors. Three alumni, Jackson Finio, Sisi Peng and Arjan Singh, spoke to students in a moderated panel discussion and Q&A session. They shared insights and lessons learned from the Business Plan Competition and college, and offered an array of perspectives on applying these lessons into their careers now that they’ve entered the workforce.
“We’re very grateful to our sponsors, judges, business volunteers and speakers for investing the time, resources and expertise to develop and inspire the next generation of innovators and leaders of business in the New York metro area and beyond,” said Joseph A. Peri, President of JA New York. “As our returning alumni emphasized, real world entrepreneurship education for youth is crucial to developing well-rounded talent and ensuring that New York remains a national and globally competitive center of business and innovation.”
The program is made possible by generous support from presenting sponsor, ICE NYSE Foundation, founding sponsor, G.C. Andersen Partners and in-kind donor, KKR. The final round panel of VIP judges included Victoria Bachan, Founder, Manor & Company; Matt Conlin, President, Fluent; Scott Gerber, Founder & CEO, CommunityCo. and Founder, Young Entrepreneur Council; Scott Karnas, Corporate Controller, KKR and JA New York Board Member; and Rachel Van Tosh, Deputy Commissioner, NYC Small Business Services.
Guest speakers included Rich Poccia, Partner, PwC, and Vice Chair of the Board of JA New York; Ken Mehlman, Member & Global Head of Public Affairs, KKR; three alumni of JA New York’s Business Plan Competition; and Ryan Kelly, the 15-year-old founder of Ry’s Ruffery, former Junior Achievement student and investment recipient on the hit reality show Shark Tank.
To date, 7,000 students from New York City, Long Island and the Lower Hudson Valley have received valuable business and entrepreneurship education during the Business Plan Competition. More than $200,000 in cash and prizes have been awarded to over 110 students since the inception of the program.
For more information about the Business Plan Competition, visit: http://jany.org/programs/business-plan-competition/.
For press inquiries regarding the Business Plan Competition please contact:
Director, Digital Marketing and Communications
Junior Achievement of New York
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ABOUT JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT OF NEW YORK
Junior Achievement of New York is the local affiliate of Junior Achievement USA, the nation’s largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their future, and make smart academic and economic choices. We recruit, train, and mobilize more than 6,200 corporate and community volunteers to provide relevant, hands-on experiences that give students knowledge and skills in financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship. Today, JA New York delivers more than 80,000 student experiences per year to more than 260 NYC, Long Island and Lower Hudson Valley public schools. Visit www.jany.org for more information.
SOURCE: Junior Achievement of New York
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