Statewide High School Competition Awards $6,000 in Seed Money to Teen Entrepreneurs

Three students from Charleston place in competition, with top two winning additional grand prize trip to NYC.

Thirty-six South Carolina high school students stepped into the shoes of entrepreneurs on ABC’s Shark Tank this past Friday, during YEScarolina’s 7th Annual State Business Plan Competition, presented by the Mark E. Motley Foundation. Through three rounds of competition held at the College of Charleston’s School of Business, each student had an opportunity to present their business plan for a chance to win seed money to launch their venture, as well as an all-expense paid trip to New York City.

The morning began with a welcome speech as students prepared for their first round of presentations. In between rounds of competition, presenters had an opportunity to speak to attendees and fellow entrepreneurs about their businesses at the Student Expo in the Atrium. Teachers were also recognized individually after the first round and given a Starbucks gift card for a much-needed coffee break! While judges deliberated on the six finalists, YEScarolina Executive Director Austin Stone and President of Programs Eva Rutiri invited Founder Jimmy Bailey to speak about what motivated him to give students from all socioeconomic backgrounds an opportunity to start businesses through teaching entrepreneurship. Bailey shared the story of an early YEScarolina alumnus, Jerome Smalls, who used what he learned in his middle school entrepreneurship class to start his own organizations. Smalls eventually earned the title of South Carolina Entrepreneur of the Year. He is currently a student at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. and will return to Charleston for a signing of his new book, Small Talk: One Youth. Seven Stories, at West Ashley High School on Monday, May 21st.

At 3:30pm, six finalists were announced: Zach Ahearn, Samantha Kutcher, Bria Maiden, Quinn Nisbet, Luke Panzarella, all Wando High School Students, as well as Siada Tisdale, a student at Kingstree Senior High School in Kingstree, South Carolina. They presented on stage in the Wells Fargo Auditorium, in front of an esteemed panel of judges made up of Charleston business leaders that included owner of Butcher & Bee and The Daily and YEScarolina board member Melody Shemtov, Heritage Trust Federal Credit Union Employer & Public Relations Director and YEScarolina board member Nise Lowell, Executive Vice President, Human Resources at Blackbaud and YEScarolina board member John Mistretta.


The winners of the 7th Annual State Business Plan Competition are:


1st Place – Samantha Kutcher • Prepare4Work,  $3,000

2nd Place – Bria Maiden • Bria 3214 Clothing, $2,000

3rd Place – Quinn Nisbet  • Electron PC, $1,000


Kutcher’s Prepare4Work helps special needs adults in Charleston, SC acquire skills to become competitive in the workforce. Maiden’s Bria 3214 Clothing is a clothing brand with an inspirational social message to embrace positivity and your authentic self. Nisbet’s Electron PC helps customers to custom build computers by focusing on customer experience. Along with their seed money, Kutcher and Maiden also won an educational, all-expense paid trip to New York City to learn from successful entrepreneurs while exploring the big highlights of the city.