On Thursday, October 3, NFTE’s top 38 young entrepreneurs competed in at the National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge (#NYEC) for a chance at $25,000 in cash and prizes. The finalists, who are all business plan competition winners from their respective regions, were required to develop and present original business plans as part of their entrepreneurial studies at school, based on NFTE's experiential curriculum.
NYEC had three parts to it: the semi-finals in the morning, quarter-finals in the afternoon, and the final round that evening. Contestants pitched their businesses to a panel of judges who would then ask questions about every facet of their business, from profit margins to competitive advantage.
At the end of the day there were three finalists: Jesus Fernandez & Toheeb Okenla’s T&J Soccer, a retail business that sells soccer socks to protect player’s shins during games; Dagim Girma’s The Audible, a web community where high school sports fans can engage with one another; and Juny Ngnuyen’s Necksessories, a snap-on tie apparel line. Before the final round, the top three were mentored by Sean “Diddy” Combs, who also kicked off the evening portion of NYEC.
The top three presented their businesses to a panel of distinguished judges: Michael Fertik, founder and CEO of Reputation.com; Jennifer Gilbert, President of Save the Date; Pat Kiernan, Anchor at NY1 News; Jasmine Lawrence, NFTE alum, founder of EDEN BodyWorks and Program Manager at Microsoft; and Gary VonderHaar, Group Executive of Enterprise Architecture at MasterCard. In the end, Jesus and Toheeb were awarded 1st place for T&J Soccer!
Additionally, during the evening, Walt Macnee, Vice Chair of MasterCard presented NFTE with a 1.2 million dollar grant and Sean "Diddy" Combs presented a check to the organization for $250,000. The donations will continue to help support NFTE’s U.S. and global programming, which builds strong business literacy skills for youth and prepares them for successful futures.
Congratulations to everyone who participated and thank you to everyone that joined NFTE for a very special day!
Check out more photos from the event here.