Ar­cata’s Jude Ortega wins top con­test prize

Times Standard (Eureka) - - FRONT PAGE -

Five Hum­boldt County stu­dents com­peted in the first vir­tual IN­NO­VATE! Busi­ness Chal­lenge Finale.

From a Hum­boldt County Of­fice of Ed­u­ca­tion re­lease:

Five Hum­boldt County High School stu­dents com­peted in the first vir­tual IN­NO­VATE! Busi­ness Chal­lenge Finale with $9,000 in prize money and $750 in me­dia ser­vices awarded to sup­port the de­vel­op­ment of their busi­nesses.

Due to COVID-19, the IN­NO­VATE! Finale was pro­duced in a video, which pre­miered on the Hum­boldt County Of­fice of Ed­u­ca­tion (HCOE) web­site and through a Face­book watch party on May 21. More than 300 peo­ple tuned in to watch the stu­dents pitch their ideas to judges in Hum­boldt County’s very own stu­dent ver­sion of “shark tank.”

The IN­NO­VATE! Busi­ness Chal­lenge is a high school com­pe­ti­tion de­signed to pro­mote en­trepreneur­ship, cre­ativ­ity and in­no­va­tion. In phase one, stu­dents were chal­lenged to cre­ate and sub­mit busi­ness start-up ideas as 6090 sec­ond video el­e­va­tor pitches. This year, 136 ideas were sub­mit­ted. Judges re­viewed and scored all the videos to se­lect 50 top ideas to move into phase two.

The 50 semi-fi­nal­ists were then chal­lenged to de­velop vi­able busi­ness mod­els, iden­tify their tar­get cus­tomers, and cal­cu­late how to make their ideas prof­itable by an­swer­ing 13 key busi­ness plan ques­tions. Dur­ing phase two, judges had the dif­fi­cult job of se­lect­ing only five fi­nal con­cepts to present in the finale to com­pete for cash awards.

An im­por­tant as­pect of the com­pe­ti­tion is pre­par­ing the stu­dents for the real world of busi­ness. This year, lo­cal ex­perts vol­un­teered their time to pro­vide vir­tual work­shops de­signed to help re­fine stu­dent ideas into a vi­able ven­ture. Coaches pro­vided ad­vice on prod­uct de­vel­op­ment, brand­ing, value propo­si­tion, pre­par­ing an in­come state­ment, deter­min­ing start-up costs and cap­i­tal needs, as well as short and long-term plan­ning. The ad­vice in­tro­duced busi­ness prac­tices that the stu­dents could adapt to their busi­ness mod­els.

Each fi­nal­ist had a 15-minute win­dow to pitch his/her idea and an­swer ques­tions from a panel of four judges via zoom. The judges had the dif­fi­cult task of de­cid­ing which fi­nal­ists had the most dy­namic con­cept and how best to sup­port their start-up needs.

In the end, Jude Ortega, a sopho­more from Ar­cata

High School took the top honor, win­ning $2,500 in cash and a $500 me­dia pack­age for his busi­ness, Jude’s Re­us­able Sand­wich Bag.

Chan­dler Mrotzek, a ju­nior at Alder Grove Char­ter School was the first run­ner up, win­ning $2,000 in cash and a $250 me­dia pack­age for his busi­ness, SAVI As­sis­tant. Elias Surber, a se­nior at Eureka High School, won $1,750 for his busi­ness, Rooty Glass­works. Sa­man­tha Gleave, a se­nior at Six Rivers Char­ter High School took home $1,500 for her busi­ness, Pet Por­traits. Caleb Weiss, a ju­nior from North­coast Prepara­tory Academy won $1,250 for his busi­ness Bay­side Ad­ver­tis­ing

So­lu­tions.

Judges in­cluded Vic­to­ria Ben­ning­ton from Bi­coastal Me­dia, Jen­nifer Bud­wig from Red­wood Cap­i­tal Bank, David Fisch of Fisch Drilling and Kyle Visser of Shred Aware.

In­no­vate Pro­gram Lead, Karen Brooks states, “This year is a life les­son in be­ing re­silient. The semi­fi­nal­ists worked through dif­fi­cul­ties to de­velop their busi­nesses and per­sisted to find a way to be suc­cess­ful!”

Pro­gram spon­sors in­clude The Head­wa­ters Fund, US Bank, Red­wood Cap­i­tal Bank, Bi­coastal Me­dia and the Hum­boldt County Of­fice of Ed­u­ca­tion.

“Given our cur­rent re­al­ity, the term ‘in­no­vate’ could not be more ap­pro­pri­ate,” states Su­per­in­ten­dent of Schools, Dr. Chris Hart­ley. “Cre­at­ing and de­vel­op­ing so­lu­tions to new chal­lenges de­fines the work of stu­dents, men­tors, event plan­ners, judges and our com­mu­ni­ties. The fact that this event con­tin­ued dur­ing 2020, is an ab­so­lute tes­ta­ment to the re­solve and tenac­ity of our com­mu­nity and serves as a model for in­no­va­tion across all sec­tors. Con­grat­u­la­tions to all our stu­dents.”

For more in­for­ma­tion about the In­no­vate Busi­ness Chal­lenge or other HCOE in­no­vate pro­grams, please con­tact Karen Brooks at 707-445-7563 or kbrooks@ hcoe.org, or visit the web­site at https://hcoe.org/in­no­vate/.

“This year is a life les­son in be­ing re­silient. The semi­fi­nal­ists worked through dif­fi­cul­ties to de­velop their busi­nesses and per­sisted to find a way to be suc­cess­ful!” — Karen Brooks, In­no­vate Pro­gram lead

Ortega

Mrotzek

Surber

Gleave

Weiss

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