Start It Up St. Louis Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge – Winners Announced

Two Young Entrepreneurs Win Cash And Opportunity to Compete at National Level at Start It Up St. Louis Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge

Aliyah Wilson and Tiara Gibson emerged as winners from a field of six finalists during the championship round of the first Start It Up St. Louis Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge.

The challenge was the culmination of St. Louis’ first Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) BizCamp®, presented by MasterCard Worldwide. Six finalists presented their business plans to a panel of distinguished local judges at the St. Louis Science Center’s Taylor Community Science Resource Center on June 28, 2013.

These students were part of a group of 39 St. Louis area students participating in Start It Up St. Louis BizCamp® from June 17- 28. The NFTE BizCamp® is a two-week intensive program that provides entrepreneurship education to low-income high school students. The camps provide the students with the knowledge and skills needed to develop their own business. Students are taught to think like entrepreneurs, and it’s these foundational skills that will help them for years to come in the increasingly competitive global marketplace.

Each of the two first-place winners were awarded $400 in seed money to advance their businesses. In addition, they now advance to champions the 2013 NFTE National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, presented by MasterCard Worldwide on October 3, 2013 in New York City. At this event, they will compete against 34 other NFTE student champions from across the country.

Winner, Aliyah Wilson is Founder and CEO of Cool-Aid Crutch Wear. Inspired by an injury that left Aliyah on crutches that she customized in order to add her own style and flair, Cool-Aid Crutch Wear offers men, women and children of all ages the opportunity to customize their crutches. Each set includes 4 pieces that will decorate the two underarm pads and the forearm pads of the crutches. Clients will be able to fully customize their designs, so they can express themselves and feel more confident as they recover from their injuries.

Winner, Tiara Gibson is Founder and CEO of Quik Squeeze, a durable water bottle that features a filter and all natural flavor cubes and helps people drink their daily recommended amount of water by making it more exciting and delicious to drink. The revolutionary Quik Squeeze bottle allows people to control the amount of flavor each bottle of water has – the more you squeeze, the more flavor is released.

“This year’s competitors are an impressive group of young people with some really innovative business ideas,” said Dan Delany, Chief Marketing & Development Officer for NFTE. “They exemplify outstanding drive, dedication and commitment as they work to get their plans in shape and even to bring products and services to market in preparation for the competition. And thanks to the support of partners like MasterCard and the St. Louis Science Center, Urban League and College Bound, we are excited to recognize so many amazing young entrepreneurs from around the St. Louis region.”

During the camp, students received hands-on training in launching a business and learned the real-world application of having strong math, reading and writing skills. The NFTE curriculum reinforces students’ critical-thinking skills and provides them with additional tools to take control of their futures and think entrepreneurially.

“The skills that the students learn in the Start It Up St. Louis BizCamp are critical as more and more, they’re competing with students not just in the St. Louis area, but students from around the world when it comes to jobs and starting businesses,” said Rob Reeg, President, MasterCard Technologies and Operations. “It’s the skills that the students learn at a camp like this one that will help set them apart from other students their age and inspire them to continue to achieve at a very high level. We congratulate all of the students who participated in the camps this year, especially Aliyah Wilson and Tiara Gibson and wish them both the best of luck in the national competition in New York!”

The 2013 NFTE National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge grand-prize winner will take home a total of $25,000 in venture capital and prizes.

About the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship
Too many young people today drop out of school and struggle to break the cycle of poverty. Since 1987, the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) has been inspiring young people to pursue educational opportunities, start their own businesses, and succeed in life. By providing entrepreneurship education programs relevant to the real world, NFTE empowers students to own their educations in and out of the classroom and to find their own path to success. Hundreds of thousands of students have discovered opportunity all around them through entrepreneurship via thousands of certified educators worldwide. NFTE supports active programs in 19 U.S. locations and 13 countries around the world. Entrepreneurs are a powerful driver of economic growth and NFTE sows the seeds of innovation in students worldwide.

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About MasterCard Worldwide
MasterCard is a technology company in the global payments industry. We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. MasterCard’s products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone.

SOURCE: Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship