Young Entrepreneurs Academy Class of 2015

By Fran Blackney
Program Manager

On November 4th, 24 dynamic, hard working high school students started a 6 month journey that will instruct and guide them to become high quality business owners.

I am pleased to introduce you to the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, Class of 2015.

From Clovis North High School: River Alexander, Violette Ballecer, Jayden Conte, Gregory Da Cunha, Harrison Ewell, Brandon Insco, Hannah McKay, Brynn Mcilhatton, Alyssa Melillo, Rohan Mishra, Tyler Paboojian, Christian Reta, Hailey Ruiz, Jena Srikanth, Maya Srikanth, Andrew Steele, Maegan Vitale

From Buchanan High School: Micah Baguinguito, Kelsey Ewing, Charles Harris, Emily Laing

From Clovis East: Jessica Chillingerian

From Kerman High School: Sarahi Nunez, Danielle Pacheco

After a Monday evening orientation, the students had their first class at Clovis Community College. Led by Instructor Bill Syvertsen, owner of The Tutoring Club and a professor at Fresno City College teaching entrepreneurship, they played an ice breaker game and started hearing about fine tuning their business ideas.

The second class was spent on an exciting field trip to Ad-Venture Video where owner Ted Ruiz told his story about becoming an entrepreneur. Inspired by a teacher in college, Ted knew his heart belonged in the video business. After a stint at KSEE 24 television, he had the opportunity to purchase Ad-Venture Video Productions and is now recognized as one of the leaders in the Central Valley.

After his discussion, the students were put in front of a microphone and directed to give a spontaneous 1 minute speech on video. Shocked and surprised, they still came through like troopers. A reporter and cameraman from KSEE24/CBS47 filmed the experience for the news.

On November 18th, the students heard from Kelly Fitzgerald, local owner of the Sequoia Sandwich Company and creator of the Bumpit a “Made for TV” hair accessory that sold millions. She inspired the students to take that idea in their mind and make it into something – maybe the next big product.

The Clovis Chamber is pleased with the success of YEA!. When the New York headquarters of YEA contacted the Clovis Chamber in late 2012 upon the recommendation of the US Chamber of Commerce, our Board of Directors recognized its value and gave the go ahead. Deborah Ikeda, President of Clovis Community College, and Janet Young, Superintendent of Clovis Unified, also were impressed with YEA! and have supported the program with accommodations and student recruitment.

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy is the most extensive and intensive business program offered. At 6 months in length, it is a big time and effort commitment from the students so they know at graduation they have accomplished something great.

Our inaugural class in 2013 started with 11 students and graduated 7. This year we have the maximum number of 24 while having to turn away several interested students who are going to apply for next year’s class. Students, parents, educators and community leaders have seen the tremendous results from the YEA! curriculum and are stepping up their support of the program.

Dozens are volunteering while many companies are making financial contributions for the Investor Panel in March.

Soon the students will have their business ideas confirmed, partnerships will be formed and the hard work will begin – creating the business plans, power points and designing logos and websites. They’ll be hearing about insurance, taxes, marketing, PR, and government regulations.

They will also participate in Chamber events – The Salute to Business Dinner in January, Clovis Business Resource Fair in March and BIG Hat Days in April.

What sets the Clovis program apart from others is the emphasis on soft, or performance skills. We work on character, work ethic, critical thinking, communication and interviewing for a job then keeping it once they’re hired. They’ll hear about work situations and how to handle problem customers.

One important message they’ll receive from the speakers will be how to handle mistakes and failures. They must use them as turning points to change directions and never be repeated. Resilience and persistence is one of the most important character traits of successful people.

For more information about YEA!, contact the Chamber at 299-7363

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