2015 Teen Business Challenge
The weekend of February 20th through 22nd was a special one for a group of 20 local teens.
While a majority of the teens were from Hillsborough County’s East and West Tampa, this year’s technology competition included students from as far south of Wimauma. They all took part in the 2nd Annual Teen Business Challenge (TBC). The Teen Business Challenge is an entrepreneurship training contest where youth learn the process of building business ideas into viable products for the market. The program was hosted by Computer Mentors Group, Inc. and was held at the offices of Microsoft Corporation off Kennedy Blvd in the Westshore area.
The event kicked off late Friday afternoon at 5pm with challenges Friday night, Saturday morning and afternoon, and Sunday morning and afternoon. The teens were placed into four (4) teams of five (5) players each. Each team was designated by a T-shirt with one of the primary colors. There were five challenges that the teams competed in. The first round was the “Big Idea Challenge” which occurred directly after a creative thinking workshop. Round two was the “Treasure Map Challenge”, which followed the Business Model Generation workshop on Saturday morning. Third was the “Show Me the Money Challenge” which occurred late Saturday afternoon, after the Marketing and Customer Service workshop. Fourth round was the “MVP Challenge” (minimum viable product) which followed a Prototyping workshop. And finally, the fifth round was the culminating event “The Pitch Challenge” which followed after the pitch deck workshop. The “Pitch Challenge” was hosted in front of an audience of about 100 people.
“The Green Team” was the overall winning team, which consisted of Brinyae Dukes, David Nunez, Evan Ellis, Joshua Hamilton, and Juan Bezanilla. Team member David Nunez, said “The Teen Business Challenge was a great experience. It helped me see inside the creative world that businesses work in, and as a person who usually prefers to work without a team, it showed me how advantageous and how much more one can accomplish when they collaborate with others.”
The final pitch challenge was evaluated by an astute panel of judges, which included Chris Arnoldi, who is President of Royal Road Group, and Founder of Uhsome and CoWorkTampa; Jim Gossett, who is COO and CIO at SCTC, and is a member of the USF Connect Council of Professionals, and a Tampa Bay WaVe mentor; Dr. Andrew Gold, Ph.D., Business Administration Professor at Hillsborough Community College, and the Co-Founder of Tampa Bay Education Entrepreneurs; and David Bellini who is an entrepreneur and co-founder and COO of ConnectWise. Even the judges agreed this was a good use of their time. Dr. Andy Gold said “It is not often in life when you are able to be a small part of something that is life changing. The 2015 Teen Business Challenge provided me with an uplifting and inspiring opportunity to provide feedback to young adults engaged in learning about entrepreneurship, but more importantly learning about what is possible in life. It was an honor to be asked to become involved with this event, and I will always cherish that experience.” Another testimony stated by TBC Judge Jim Gossett said “The experience that Computer Mentors Group has provided for these young entrepreneurs through the “Pitch” Challenge – Teen Business Challenge will build a solid foundation and have a tremendous impact on the growing base of young talent in the Tampa Bay Area. The elements of this program not only encourages technology innovation but also focuses on development of critical skills to include communication, team building, and collaboration. It was certainly an honor to serve on the “Pitch” Challenge panel of judges along with fellow Tampa business leaders as well as coach the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.”
Each of the 20 teens that participated not only had a great experience, but they were also rewarded with brand new iPad Mini tablet computers. These were made available by a generous donation from ConnectWise, which more than matched a donation to host this event by Hillsborough County’s Economic Development Office EDi2 headed by Jennifer Whelihan. As this year’s title sponsor, ConnectWise also supported the event with coaches and volunteers that cheered the youth through the different challenges. “It’s inspiring to see a community of like-minded and creative teens come together with passion for entrepreneurship and technology. The Teen Business Challenge has created a platform for today’s youth to kick-start their careers in technology and plan for the future now. ConnectWise was truly honored to be part of such an innovative program dedicated to the success of Tampa’s future leaders.” Said David Bellini co-founder of ConnectWise.
Computer Mentors hosts the Teen Business Challenge annually as a way to promote the creative culture of the Tampa Bay area. Part of the mission of the organization is bridging the technology divide and this event helps connect kids of all backgrounds, and especially underrepresented populations, to that creative culture and the people involved. Computer Mentors is a 501c3 nonprofit organization serving Hillsborough County for nearly 18 years with technology programs such as the STEM Corps High School Program which assists high school students to achieve industry standard computers certifications and prepares them for employment in the IT industry, and KidsCode which teaches middle school aged children to program computers and devices. For further information you can contact Computer Mentors at 813-236-1191.