“My favorite part about the Virtual Teen Pitch & Launch Event is watching the students shine because a lot of times we minimize the capabilities of what young people can do. However, we believe that they are wrapped in brilliance,” says Dr. Roxie Hentz, CEO and founder of CEOs of Tomorrow. “They don’t have to wait until they are adults to make a huge impact. So the most exciting part for me is watching them bloom.”
Talented entrepreneurial teens from CEOs of Tomorrow’s 2021 Spring These Teens Mean Busine$$ Incubator will pitch, launch and test their business ideas created to promote positive change in their communities at the 7th annual Virtual Teen Pitch & Launch Event this Saturday, April 17, at noon.
“We have 12 students participating as we do each time. We’re excited because virtually we’ve been able to expand, so we have four out of Milwaukee, one from Maryland, one from Wisconsin Dells and the rest are from the Madison area,” Hentz tells Madison365.
The event is divided into three sections. First, the students pitch their business ideas to a live audience and a panel of judges a la ‘Shark Tank,” the critically acclaimed entrepreneurial-themed reality show on ABC. This year, one of the judges will be a CEOs of Tomorrow alumni.
“Each of their business ideas is linked to a social issue that is important to them. So the goal is, as it always is because CEOs of Tomorrow focuses on social entrepreneurship, for these young people to think about how their businesses can not only earn revenue, but benefit their social issue at the same time – either by raising awareness or some of them give back by making a donation from the profits they earn,” Hentz says.
While the audience is watching, they get to cast their vote for the “People’s Choice” award.
“The audience will get to pick the teen entrepreneur that they feel not only had the best pitch, but is also the most innovative and has the most inspiring conviction to their social issue,” Hentz says. “The ‘People’s Choice’ awardee will win $150.”
The judges, meanwhile, will be picking the top CEOs – first, second and third place.
“First place is $1,000 – half of that will be cash and the other half will be a college scholarship. Second place is $500, with half going to a college scholarship. Third place is $250,” Hentz says.
After the students pitch their businesses, they go into their virtual stores where people an buy their products.
“Every year these products get more and more creative,” Hentz says.
The participating youth in this year’s 7th Pitch & Launch Event will include:
• Breanna Brown’s “Glossed Up’ will be selling a set of three lip gloss – peppermint, tutti frutti, and strawberry. Her social issue is depression.
• Salim Ceesay’s “The Freeland” business will be four handmade Africa, Mexico, Australia, and U.S.A friendship bracelets with candies from their countries. His social issue is depression.
• Zariah Dyer’s “Clothing With a Cause” will be selling customized ‘End The Hate’ sweatpants and two customized embroidered ‘We’re All Human’ patches. Zaraiah’s social issue is racism.
• Nallely Gonzalez’s “Self-Defense Beauty” will be selling Family Safety Kit (two alarm keychains and three multifunctional escape tools). Her social issue is assault.
• Kahliana Guillen will be selling KJ’s Crafts Creative Coloring which includes a binder with 15 hand-drawn coloring art pages with uplifting messages. Also comes with coloring pencil set, blank drawing sheets, and 10 customized stickers. Kahliana’s social issue is racism.
• Aaron Howell’s “Money $ense” will be selling 25 Financial Literacy Cards, Customized Money $ense journal with pen and sticky notes. His social issue is financial illiteracy.
• Jesse Leyna’s “Spring Sweets” will be selling homemade products like two chocolate rice crisp bars, four grape flavor lollipops, four strawberry flavor lollipops, and four watermelon flavored lollipops. Jesse’s social issue is bullying.
• Azuany Silvestre’s “Amor Morado” will be selling a handmade set of three rings. Azuany’s social issue is domestic abuse and self-love.
• Ashley Vilaysane’s “Ashley’s Arts & Craft” is selling cursive and calligraphy kits including a 44-page handmade calligraphy book, six markers, one fountain pen, four ink tubes, and one notebook. Social issues are dyslexia and dysgraphia.
• Michia Ward’s “Cream City Skincare” includes a loofa and homemade soap and body butter. Her social issue is domestic abuse.
• Noelia Xelhua’s “Boom” is selling a customized t-shirt, customized notebook, and six customized stickers with uplifting messages. The social issue is mental health
• Aidan Yang’s “Flaky Salt” is selling organically sourced Asian Gnocchi with butter sage sauce food kit with premium nonperishable ingredients along with a detailed recipe card. The social issue is LGBTQ+ Teens Support
“These young people are amazing and their stories are incredible,” Hentz says. “After they pitch, they will be open for business,” Hentz says. “So people can actually shop ’til they drop, so to speak, and go into the 12 virtual stores and meet the students personally and purchase their products online. American Family Insurance is our sponsor and they are covering the cost for shipping, so all items ship at no cost to the customers.
“So people will not only be supporting these young entrepreneurs’ businesses, but the causes that they represent,” she adds.
After the shopping time is over, the awards will be announced including the “People’s Choice” award winner and the top three CEOs.
The event is the signature event for CEOs of Tomorrow, who was recently awarded the 2021 Force for Positive Change award from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), which highlights organizations engaged in social impact work in Wisconsin, by Wisconsin and for Wisconsin. This year, 174 social enterprises applied for the awards, 56 of them moved on to phase two, and 20 of them became finalists, Hentz says.
“Last week they announced the seven honorees and CEOs of Tomorrow were one of them. We were one of the seven businesses that are making huge social gains within their businesses while also generating growing revenue,” Hentz says. “We are the only one in the Madison/Milwaukee area.”
CEOs of Tomorrow is celebrating its 5th anniversary this year, and has grown quite a bit since it launched in 2016 with a three-week summer course for teens.
“Most of the young people come to us with no business ideas and no business backgrounds. Some of them don’t even know what entrepreneurship means. And, ultimately, in 10 weeks, 100 percent of our youth launch businesses,” Hentz says.
On April 25, Hentz adds, they will be launching their “100 in 5 – CEOs Thrive” campaign.
“Last year, as of December, our youth have launched 100 businesses at CEOs of Tomorrow. We just started. We are looking forward to launching many more,” Hentz says.
Come and check out young teen entrepreneurs and the innovative businesses they are launching at CEOs of Tomorrow’s 7th annual Virtual Teen Pitch & Launch Event Saturday, April 17, at noon. For more information, click here.