Teen en­trepreneurs present busi­ness plans

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By BRI­ANNA SHEA



— 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.

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