Fort Mill Times
July 14, 2014
By John Marks
FORT MILL — They banked on big fish and body fuel, and they did it about as well as anyone in the state.
Recent Fort Mill High School graduate Jesse Horine, 18, and rising junior Jeremy LaPointe, 16, took two of the top three spots at the June 18 YEScarolina Business Plan Competition.
The contest was the third annual event in which high school students create and submit business plans, then present them for competition at the county and state level.
Fort Mill High got two slots in its first year competing. Horine took second, with $2,000 in cash and an October trip to nationals in Silicon Valley. LaPointe took third and $1,000 cash.
“It’s pretty cool to see a bunch of young entreprenuers that have businesses, and it’s because of programs like this,” said Horine, who heads to College of Charleston this fall.
Horine’s business is SouthernFly. He plans to manufacture, market and sell apparel and equipment around the many variations of minnow fly he created for mountain, saltwater and lake fly-fishing. He’s promoting his product online and through social media.
Horine estimates 80 percent of the students at the state event were legitimate small-business ventures rather than school projects that wouldn’t last past a final grade. Many already hadlimited liability company status.
The four to six judges each round, and the packed auditorium for the finals, largely were Charleston entrepreneurs, Horine said. Horine “played that slide pretty hard” showing how Charleston could be a key market for him, coming away with a pocket full of business cards.
“That’s amazing as a young entrepreneur,” he said. “Connections are everything in the business world.”