Youth entrepreneurs earn start-up cash

  • Thursday, May 22, 2014

Dekeiya Cohen won first place and $1,000. PROVIDED

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More than $15,000 was awarded to student competitors as seed money last week at the Third Annual Motley Rice County Business Plan Competition. Through a partnership with Motley Rice, YEScarolina was able to award start-up cash to 30 young entrepreneurs who presented their ideas and innovations to judges throughout the day. Hosted at the College of Charleston School of Business, future business owners competed in several rounds of competition before the five finalists landed themselves in the closing challenge round. Six local business leaders made up the final judge panel, including Eric Bowman, CEO of SPARC, Carolyn James and Laura Holcomb of Motley Rice and local attorney Margie Pizarro.

West Ashley High School student Dekeiya Cohen won the coveted first-place prize of $1,000 for her innovative business idea, “The Catching Prodigy.” The invention Dekeiya created is intended to improve the catching ability of basketball players by making The Catching Prodigy an affordable, yet valuable, training device that anyone can use. Cohen is a senior and will be attending Baylor University on a full basketball scholarship.

Second-place prize of $500 went to the duo behind the business idea, “Two Beans.” Paola Macias and Claudia Soto of Charleston Collegiate School came up with a business selling authentic Mexican tamales made with passion. They are breaking into the food delivery service industry by selling their tamales frozen in packs of 10.

Riley Steward, also of Charleston Collegiate, won the third-place prize of $250 for her business “Riley 2 the Rescue.” Her business was created to provide a more affordable pet-sitting service than a kennel and offers a family-oriented environment. Riley is in ninth grade and currently operates this business from her parent's house on John's Island.

The two runners-up were Jasmine Godbolt of Summerville High School for her child care business idea, “The Village,” and Austin Thomas of Fort Dorchester High School for his business, Charleston Auto Detailing.

These five young entrepreneurs now advance to the Mark Motley State Business Plan Competition on June 18 at the College of Charleston School of Business in addition to 15 students from around the city and state. The public is encouraged to attend and watch the entrepreneurship challenge finals at 5:30 p.m. where the first-place winner will receive $3,000, second place $2,000 and third place $1,000. The first-place winner will also advance to the NFTE National Challenge on October 9 in Silicon Valley.

“Great experience and opportunity to see what the young entrepreneurs of Charleston are developing, said Christine Osborne, owner of Wonder Works and judge at the business plan competition. I was extremely impressed with the amount of business background they were taught, assimilated into their presentations and product development. Wow! Great job YES Carolina!”

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