On Saturday, October 17, 2020, a high school student from Frisco, took home the country’s top prize for teen entrepreneur in the 12th Annual Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) Saunders Scholars Competition.
The Shark Tank-style pitch competition awarded over $80,000in cash prizes and scholarships to the Saunders College of Business at Rochester Institute of Technology to 4 students with the best business ideas and inventions in the U.S.
The First Place winner, awarded a prize of $5,000 cash and $30,000 in scholarships to the Saunders College of Business at Rochester Institute of Technology went to Groundify, founded by Gurnoor Narula a 17-year-old, from Liberty High School. Groundify, takes spent coffee grounds and turns them into consumer products like facial scrubs and candles that are sold online and in partner locations.
This year, 36 student semifinalists from 20 states competed on a virtual stage, representing 35 schools from across the country for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and a People’s Choice Award. For the first time, the national competition was broadcast live from Sinclair Broadcasting Rochester, NY ABC WHAM Channel 13, and was streamed live on YEA!’s YouTube and Facebook pages with thousands of people tuning in to support the young founders. Gurnoor’s winning pitch can be seen at http://bit.ly/GurnoorYEA.
The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) is designed to help middle school and high school students build confidence through entrepreneurship education. Students around the country participated in a nine-month curriculum hosted in partnership with local chambers of commerce, colleges and universities, middle and high schools. With the help of local business leaders, the students designed, pitched, and launched businesses, complete with founding documents, bank accounts, websites, and working prototypes.
Students first competed locally in front of Young Entrepreneurs Academy investor panels in their hometowns in early 2020. The top businesses from each YEA! chapter were selected by a local panel of judges and went head to head at four Regional Panels live streamed throughout the day. Two student businesses from each region advanced to the Finals Round and pitched live to an esteemed panel of judges and thousands of viewers to see who would be named as America’s next top young entrepreneur.
“We could not be more proud of the work these young people are doing,” said YEA! founder and CEO, Gayle Jagel. “Just imagine what our world would look like if every student got the chance to bring their ideas to life.”
Young Entrepreneurs Academy Graduate Named America’s Top Young Scientist
Anika Chebrolu, a graduate of the 2019-2020 YEA! Frisco program was recently named America’s Top Young Scientist after discovering a potential means to treat COVID-19. Anika is currently a student at Frisco’s Independence High School and began work on her project last school year when she was an eighth-grader at Nelson Middle School. She originally planned the project to involve the seasonal flu but due to the pandemic, changed her focus to COVID-19. As the grand prize winner of the 3M Young Scientist Challenge, Anika received a $25,000 cash prize, national recognition, and a special destination trip. She also received the “Improving Lives Award”.
While in the YEA! Frisco program, Anika was the founder and executive director of AcademyAid, a nonprofit organization which provides sports equipment to underprivileged schools in high-poverty-areas to motivate students to pursue a well-rounded education
“It is exciting to watch our students brainstorm their ideas at the start of the program year,” said YEA! Frisco Program Manager, Peter Burns. However, it is even more exciting to see what they have accomplished as a result of their participation in our program.”
YEA! Frisco is celebrating its tenth anniversary this program year. Program Managers Keith Britton, Peter Burns, Kevin Thompson, and Tony Felker, President/CEO of the Frisco Chamber of Commerce are credited for starting the YEA! Frisco chapter in 2010 which was the first chapter west of the Mississippi.
Both Gurnoor and Anika were recognized at the Frisco City Council meeting on Monday, November 2, 2020, and received a proclamation from Mayor Jeff Cheney.
More about the Young Entrepreneurs Academy
The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) is a 501(c) 3 offering groundbreaking series of classes and workshops that teach middle and high school students how to start and run their own businesses.