Fourteen South Carolina high schools students had a chance to step into the shoes of entrepreneurs on ABC’s Shark Tank this past Saturday, during YEScarolina’s 6th 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 in front of judges for a chance to win seed money to help them launch their venture.
The morning began with an encouraging welcome speech from fellow teen entrepreneur and YEScarolina alum Tindall Hutchinson. Hutchinson, who placed second in last year’s competition, talked about her business, Shutter Up Photography, how it started while she was participating in the YEScarolina program, and how her experience has shaped her today. Invigorated by her words that, “there is no better feeling than realizing you are self made”, the students prepared for their first round of presentations. After both the preliminary and semi-final rounds, presenters had an opportunity to speak to attendees and fellow entrepreneurs about their businesses at the Student Expo, made possible by SunTrust.
While judges deliberated to decide the three finalists, YEScarolina Executive Director Austin Stone, VP of Programs Molly Crete, and Founder Jimmy Bailey awarded two scholarships to YEScarolina alums, and spoke with two entrepreneurs from Thomas C. Cario Middle School about their experiences in their recently completed Biz Club Competition. The Kathy Elsner Spirit Award was awarded to Amanda Bennett, a student from West Ashley High School, and The Bill Hall Culinary Entrepreneurship Award was awarded to Rebecca Salazar Yata, graduate of St. John’s High School. Both will be attending Trident Technical College in the fall.
At 5pm, three finalists were announced: Colin Posnanski from Wando High School, Jasmine Adams from Bishop England High School and her classmate, Harrison Griffith. They began their final presentations on the bigger stage of the Wells Fargo auditorium, in front of an esteemed panel of judges made up of Charleston business leaders that included owner of Gwynn’s of Mount Pleasant and YEScarolina board member, Marshall Simon, Heritage Trust Federal Credit Union Employer & Public Relations Director and YEScarolina board member Nise Lowell, YEScarolina alum Kesha Rainey, TD Bank executive and YEScarolina board member Aaron Brewer, and Managing Director of Roadstead Capital Partners and YEScarolina board of ambassador, Josh Wright. After a final deliberation, the judges announced the winners:
1st Place – Colin Posnanski • Shoelace Society, $3,000
2nd Place – Jasmine Adams • Smudgies, $2,000
3rd Place – Harrison Griffith • Chuck Town Reclaimed, $1,000
Posnanski’s Shoelace Society offers premium quality, limited run, shoelace-based fashion accessories. For every pair of shoelaces sold, $1 goes to charity. Adams’ Smudgies is a solution for getting rid of makeup smudges. Her wipes, made out of material similar to bathing suits (an accidental discovery when that’s all she had!), last longer and don’t require adding water. Griffith’s Chuck Town Reclaimed recycles local materials to turn into beautiful, custom made furniture. Along with their seed money, Posnanski and Adams also won an all-expenses paid trip to New York City to participate in the NFTE National Entrepreneurship Challenge on October 12, 2017. They will compete against students from all over the country for a grand prize of $10,000.