Teen entrepreneurs present business plans
— A chore service for senior citizens, a lawn care service that uses goats and a dog walking service were among the business ideas young county entrepreneurs pitched as part of the first ever Start-Up Cecil showcase Monday night.
More than 20 teens, ranging in age from 11 to 17, gave a “Shark Tank” style presentation of their business plans before a panel of judges at the Elkton Central Library for a chance to win prizes and other business-related items. The showcase, which was run by the Cecil County Public Library, was the culmination of a threepart series that kicked off in June with two classes designed to teach teens what it takes to create a small business.
The classes weren’t required to enter the showcase but all business plans had to be submitted in advance to the panel of three judges, made up of Cecil County Councilman Dan Schneckenburger, Kim Swyka of Columbia Bank and Cathy and Jenn Parsons, of Best Vacations LLC. The judges were also allowed to ask questions during the five-minute presentations.
The first place winner received a $ 200 Visa gift card, second place earned a $ 100 Visa gift card and third place won a $50 gift card. All of the participants received Start- Up Cecil T- shirts and business cards.
Joseph Grapes, 12, won first place for his Helping Hands plan, which focuses on helping elders with tasks such as lawn and yard work, car washes and indoor chores. Second place was awarded to Caroline Little, 11, for her Managing Vegetation with Goats plan, which utilizes goats for lawn work. Third place went to Brandon Goldberg, 11, for his Pet Parade Dog Services, a dog walking service.
Other business plans presented included cupcakes to help lower blood pressure, stress balls and a colonial restaurant and bed and breakfast.
Grapes said he came up with his winning business idea because he thinks it’s important to help the elderly.
”I feel very strongly about helping the elderly because they are such a big part of our community,” Grapes said, noting that he researched and found that 20 percent of the world’s population is 70 years and older.
Joseph said his main inspiration for his plan came from helping his grandmother after she underwent shoulder surgery about a month ago. He said he’s helped her with the laundry and vacuuming and helped his grandfather with lawn work because he’s been taking care of his wife, as well.
He said he’d like to start his busi- ness soon and has a few friends in mind who may be interested in his start-up.
Grapes’ father, Michael, said he and wife, Denise, are proud of Joseph for winning.
”I was glad because it was his idea, his brainchild, so to speak,” Michael said.
Schneckenburger said he was impressed by the teens who presented their business plans during the competition.
“It just shows a lot of youth have ideas about doing a business, they have a lot of passion,” Schneckenburger said after the competition. “I really think I saw on the written responses a variation of filling out all of the necessary blocks, but a lot of kids came here and actually explained and fulfilled areas that maybe were deficient or areas we had questions on.”
Laura Metzler, CCPL small business librarian, was also impressed with the students who presented plans, noting that many came to the first class never having heard of a business plan or concepts such as start-up costs, cash flow and market analysis. But by the showcase, the students were pitching their ideas like professionals, she said.
”I think some of them could have convinced Mark Cuban to invest,” Metzler said, referring to the billionaire “Shark Tank” judge. “I was blown away by the creativity and work ethic of these kids and it gives me so much faith in the future of Cecil County.”
A group picture of all of the participants and judges in the business plan presentation Monday night.