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Teens Can Win $5K Prize at Young Entrepreneur Program Pitch Competition

teen with glasses at computer, smiling

UPDATE: 2019 Winners announced!

High School
1st place: Amari Johnson, Urbana Middle School – Bling Dream
2nd place: Joshua Noa, Central High School – Noa Tables
3rd place: Zev McManus-Mendelowitz, University Laboratory High School – Genius Balloons
Young Adult
1st place: Fiona Kalensky – Therapalz
2nd place: Mark Van den Avont – HexNest
3rd place: Jewel Ifeguni & Adia Ivey – YouMatter Studios

WATCH LOCAL TEENS and young adults pitch their business ideas to a panel of experienced entrepreneurs and venture capitalists for a chance to win up to $5,000 in seed money for their new venture.

If you like “Shark Tank,” you won’t want to miss this! Launch at the Library is excited to announce the first-ever Young Entrepreneur Program Pitch Competition for high school students (13–18) and young adults (19–25) on Sunday, May 5, from 2 to 5 pm, as part of Small Business Week.

Based at Champaign Public Library, the Young Entrepreneur Program (YEP)  is an award-winning, innovative curriculum that seeks to engage, empower, and educate Champaign County high school students and young adults through entrepreneurship. Through a series of interactive seminars and collaborative workshops throughout the year, experienced mentors guide participants through the process of turning their innovative ideas into viable business opportunities. The pitch competition is the capstone project for both the high school series and the eight-week accelerator program for young adults.

Prizes – $5,000 for the top winner in each age category

The first prize winner in each age group will receive $5,000; second prize, $1,000; and third prize, $500. In addition, there’s a Community Impact award for best pitch with a community focus. The prize is a signed helmet donated by Ronnie Lott, who was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000. He has local ties as an investor and has been interested in supporting YEP and seeing the benefits in our community.

The event will also include a keynote speech by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign graduate and cofounder of Cast21, Ashley S. Moy. She has led international, award-winning teams to develop medical devices and healthcare biologics, and has been invited by government bodies, healthcare Fortune 500 companies, and globally-acclaimed publications to contribute to their forums, panels, and articles on healthcare and innovation around the world. In 2018, Moy was named one of Crain’s Chicago Business “20 In Their 20s” and Chicago Inno’s “25 Under 25.” She has also been a guest lecturer for graduate and undergraduate courses on business and entrepreneurship.

The master of ceremonies will be area business coach and motivational speaker Marc Changnon, who founded a program for young entrepreneurs in the Champaign Unit 4 School District. Judges include Aadeel Akhtar, CEO and founder, PSYONIC; Mariel Huasanga, international trade specialist, Small Business Development Center; Abhinaya Konduru, venture capitalist, M25; Paul Magelli, Jr., CEO and cofounder, Apervita Inc.; Tifani Moot, partner, CMT Ventures; and Seon Williams, Owner, Williams Memorial Services & Williams Supply.

Made possible with support from Alan and Kassandra Nudo, David and Nancy Whitford, Dave and Leslie Barr, Fox Ventures LLC, Craig and Gail Rost, Champaign County Economic Development Corporation, Serra Ventures LLC, Clanin Marketing, Petronics, Tod and Belinda Courtney, Rhiannon Clifton, and the Champaign Public Library Foundation.

Business Advisory Team:
• Ujjval Patel, Vice President, Emerging Technology Center at Synchrony  Financial
• Mark Pelmore, Owner & Executive Director, Lincoln & Hill Training
• Ken Taylor, Data Engineering Manager, Granular
• Andrew Timms, President, Spectra ART Enterprises 

For more information about the Young Entrepreneur Program Pitch Competition and Launch at the Library business services, contact Stephanie Pitts-Noggle, Business Specialist, at (217) 403-2078 or via email.

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