Twenty-one student entrepreneurs pitched their business plans to a panel of investors and local business leaders during the Young Entrepreneurs Academy’s fifthannual Investor Panel on March 23.
Presented by the Loudoun Chamber Foundation and the Loudoun Economic Development Authority, YEA! Loudoun is a seven-month program that teaches middle and high school students how to develop, pitch and launch their own small business.
The program culminates in a “Shark Tank”-like investor panel. This year’s panel includedAlice Frazier of BCT-The Community’s Bank, Bernard Mustafa of BE FIT Technologies, Preeti Sarnaik of Wells Fargo, Jenny Culnen of Claude Moore Charitable Foundation, Larry Melton of The Building People, and Theodora Petrakis of SeKON.
The participants competed for $5,000 in investment capital and the chance to represent Loudoun County at the YEA! National pitch event.
Abhinav Sheth, of Eagle Ridge Middle School, took the top prize, $1,500. His business, Out of the Box Costumes, provides STEAM-based, do-it-yourself costume kits.
Other winners were:
•Yuvraj Chauhan, of John Champe High School, the founder of ZBOT, which makes virtual robots to make small businesses more efficient, $1,000;
•Aryaa Agarwal, of Broad Run High School and the Academies of Loudoun, founder of Bubblery,a customized, vegan body and skincare brand, $1,000;
•Harlow Stanley, of Belmont Ridge Middle School, founders of Clean Halo, a natural shampoo bar, $500;
•Ella Sultani, of Freedom High School, founder of Sult Inc. Candles, $500; and
•Chela Hess, of Stone Hill Middle School, founder of StyleSip by Chela, a business that celebrates Black and multi-racial women through hand-painted wine glasses and accessories, $500.
Applications are open for the Class of 2022 until June 12. Students may apply online, LoudounChamber.org/YEA.
The 2021 supporters for YEA! include Loudoun County Public Schools, Loudoun Youth, Inc., Loudoun Department of Economic Development, and the Mason Enterprise Center. Platinum Sponsors, Claude Moore Charitable Foundation, Wells Fargo; Investor Panel Sponsors, PNC Bank, SeKON, The Building People; Scholarship Sponsors, Backflow Technology, Integrus Holdings, Inc., Northwest Federal Credit Union/Northwest Federal Credit Union Foundation, One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning; Graduation Sponsor, Stryker Spine; Design Sponsors, Additional Corporation, Altered Edge, Bluewing Creative, Conveyance Marketing Group, Gabriel Brown, Marie Boshoff, Mike Burns, and Paperfish Creative.