May 21, 2024

Young entrepreneurs are preparing to share their business ideas at CEOs of Tomorrow’s 6th Teen Pitch & Launch Event online this Saturday, Dec. 12.
“The Pitch and Launch Event is a culmination of our incubator event which happens throughout the year,” Founder and CEO Dr. Roxie Hentz said. 
This free virtual event will feature high school students who participated in CEOs of Tomorrow’s “These Teens Mean Busine$$ Incubator Program.” Participants received the opportunity to test new or explore existing business ideas. A lot of the students have spent weeks sharpening plans for their business and presentation. 
“This our first time doing it virtually and during a pandemic. They have been successful at doing the work and launching their businesses virtually,” Lead Business Coach Hewan Schade said.

The Launch and Pitch Event is sponsored by American Family Insurance’s Institute on Corporate and Social Responsibility which often invests in entrepreneurs who are building scalable social enterprises. Technology & Events Coordinator Justin Harris emphasized this aspect of the program. CEOs of Tomorrow educates young people about social entrepreneurship.
“Through the incubator, CEOs of Tomorrow has inspired us to come up with a social justice or environmental issue we want to improve with our business,” Madison West High School Sophomore Nick Gohar said.
Last year, La Follette High School Junior Nabil Hamdan won one of two first place prizes for his business selling bamboo utensils instead of plastic straws, which have a negative effect on marine life and oceans. Some examples of social issues students have examined this year include lack of education and racism in health care. 
“For me, when I was creating my social issue, I wanted it to be unique so I kind of had to do some research about it,” said DeForest Area Middle School 8th Grader Ashley Vilasayn.
These students will have the opportunity to educate others about their issue while selling their product or service. Gohar said he’s looking forward to launching and growing his business. 
La Follette High School Sophomore Daisy Barrera said she received a lot of help from mentors and feedback from her peers throughout the process of developing her business. Hentz described CEOs as one big family. Barrera said she will feel excited for whoever wins the competition on Saturday.
“If they do good, that’s good. I’m going to be happy for them, but at the end of the day we’re all winning,” she said.
After the young entrepreneurs share their pitches, viewers can shop around for products they might like. All profits go towards the entrepreneur and their causes of choice. On Saturday, patrons can purchase products such as lip gloss sets, customized hoodies, festive sugar cookie kits, personal safety kits, scented masks, Mexican snack boxes, and other items. 
“People can come and shop and support the products that the teens are selling,” Hentz said. “There’s free shipping. They will be able to buy things and receive them right before Christmas.” 
Registration for the virtual event is free to the public and currently open. Those planning on attending can sign up for a ticket, offer a tax-deductible gift to CEOs of Tomorrow, or grab lunch from La Taguara or Hubbard Avenue Diner and Bakery on the organization’s website.


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