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North Iowa Teens Awarded Seed Money for Businesses at the Youth Entrepreneurial Academy

EntrepreneurNorth Iowa teaches people the ropes of business and gives them opportunities at a young age. The annual weeklong Youth Entrepreneurial Academy, which the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center conducted at North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) in Mason City, has a hand in this. They awarded six North Iowa teen-headed companies $500 each as seed money for their various businesses.

What is the Youth Entrepreneurial Academy?

From June 20 to 24, IACC John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center held the free annual Youth Entrepreneurial Academy for high school students who are interested in the world of entrepreneurship.

The academy’s keynote speaker was Tony Halsted, a recipient of the Neil Smith BDC Award and the SBA Entrepreneur of the Year. Guest speakers included Tyler Anderson from the field of entrepreneurship, Brad Barber from the field of customer service, and Miriah Whitehurst from the field of social media marketing.

The John K. and Luise V. Hanson Foundation and John Pappajohn sponsored a $500 NIACC scholarship for each of the participants. Moreover, six students received $500 seed money each for the business plan they developed throughout the weeklong program.

To whom did the academy award seed money?

On the last day of the weeklong academy, the students pitched their business proposals to a panel of five judges. Their business proposal submission included a company description, financial plans, and business model key measures such as start-up costs and sales projection.

The six business proposals that won $500 in seed money each are Sock Monkeys & More, Lawn 911, School Snapz, That Princess Girl Entertainment, Popping Flowers, and In the Zone.

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Suma Shupanitz of Mason City High School owns Sock Monkeys & More, a business with the goal of bringing smiles to their customers’ faces. The business focuses on promoting the value of handmade items. Sock Monkeys & More offers handmade monkeys, monkey clothing and themes, as well as build-your-own monkey kits.

Travis Brick and Carsen Johnson of Mason City High School also received $500 seed money for their business plan, Lawn 911. It is a fast and cost-effective lawn care service that uses zero-turn technology for sharper turns and close trimmings around trees, shrubs, bushes, and other obstacles encountered in a yard.

Melonie Gretillat of Newman Catholic High School received seed money for School Snapz, a photography business which focuses on capturing moments from high school sporting events.

RRMR High School’s Katie Hurv and Morgan Krull pitched a children’s character entertainment service called That Princess Girl Entertainment. The concept of having employees arrive at children’s birthday parties and other special events dressed as a well-known princess serves to spread happiness and grant wishes of meeting them.

Charles City High School’s Mariah McKenzie owns Popping Flowers, a company that makes handmade flower accessories out of empty soda cans. She pointed out that multi-million dollar companies make millions of dollars in profit from selling recycled products.

The sixth recipient, Blake Buttweiler, owns In the Zone, which offers individual and small group basketball lessons to elementary and middle school-aged children. Buttweiler hopes the company can get kids out of the house and play sports, given the relatively high obesity rates of children aged 6 to 11. The business also aims to build character and teach sportsmanship.

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The academy provided North Iowa’s teen participants from thirteen different high schools with an opportunity to learn how to start a business, including factors such as resources, staff, and finance. From the program, they were able to transform dreams and ideas into a tangible and feasible business plan.

  • Posted on July 19, 2016