Ross Perot hit the proverbial nail on the head with this observation: “Most new jobs won’t come from our biggest employers. They will come from our smallest. We’ve got to do everything we can to make entrepreneurial dreams a reality.” The Young Entrepreneurs Academy was founded 11 years ago “to be a leader in establishing innovative, experiential entrepreneurship programs for middle and high school students, in close cooperation with local community and business leaders and their organizations.”
YEA! statistics are impressive:
• 100% of Academy graduates graduate
from high school on time
• 99% of Academy graduates enroll in
• 19% of YEA! students start second
• 50% of YEA! students continue
business for more than one year
• YEA! Students have been awarded
millions of dollars in scholarships as a
result of their involvement in YEA!
• 2,298 students have graduated from
YEA! and have launched more 1,700
With a mission to stimulate creativity and entrepreneurship skills among youth grades 6-12, the Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce is launching the first YEA! program in Southwest Virginia. The 30-week class begins in November and is open by application to public, private and home school students. “There’s an interview process for acceptance,” explains executive director Peggy Smith, “in part to illustrate dedication and commitment to the whole program.”
Students accepted into YEA! learn not only about business plans, market research, pitching to investors and how to develop business ideas, but also how to advance positive self-esteem, personal potential and leadership skills. Local business owners provide time, advice and real-life lessons. YEA! participants launch businesses in the community, creating jobs and offering ingenious services and products.
Dedication and commitment on the part of the Chamber is evident in bringing YEA! into a community which already is heavily involved in workforce development and microbusinesses. The Youth Excel Program (YEP) gives high school juniors options to shadow business leaders in a specific industry. So, step aside Silicon Valley. There just might be a few good, young entrepreneurs right here in Pulaski County!
– The “elevator pitch” originated in Hollywood when a screenwriter would pitch an idea to an executive riding the same elevator. With only 30-90 seconds, it forced the one with the idea to present it quickly and concisely. Today’s business ideas can be presented in lots of venues, including Fallonventions and Shark Tank.
– The Tonight Show on NBC starring Jimmy Fallon has an opportunity for young entrepreneurs to submit ideas and inventions on its segment called “Fallonventions”. http://www.nbc.com/fallonventions.
– Shark Tank on ABC debuted six years ago and received the 2014 Emmy Award for Outstanding Structured Reality Program. The Sharks are self-made, millionaires and billionaires searching to invest in new businesses and innovative products. One NRV company, Taaluma Totes has been featured as a finalist.