Young Entrepreneurs Receive Investments

At the second annual Young Entrepreneurs Academy, YEA!, Investor Panel, 13 talented, hard working high school students faced  five  CEO’s in search of investment funds and winning a trip to Arizona.  The air in the City Council Chambers was thick with anticipation as the owners of the first business, CEAL Clothing, stepped up to the podium and began their presentation.

They were followed by 11 other presenters representing 5 more companies who pitched their business plans and products.  The audience saw poised, well trained speakers who had professional business plans and power points that described their concepts perfectly.

After each 6 minute speech, the CEO’s asked a total of 3 thought provoking questions that tested the students’ ability to think on their feet. They passed with flying colors.

For the past six months since November, 22 high school students have attended this after school class held at the Clovis Community College. They learned all about the skills of running a business as well as soft skills including character, work ethic and how to interview for a job.

For the past 5 weeks, the instructors have worked with their public speaking skills. With constant repetition and critiques, they evolved into the professional speakers who participated at the Panel.

When the last pitch was completed, the results were announced. The overall winner was CEAL Clothing, a dress code apparel company created by Charles Harris and Emily Laing. They received $1,200 in start up funds as well as the trip to Arizona in May to compete in the semi-finals of the Saunders National Scholarship Competition. They have a good chance of continuing to Washington DC for the finals in June where tens of thousands of dollars in scholarship funds are at stake.

Jessica Chilingerian, Alyssa Melillo, Violette Ballecer and Sarahi Nunez, received the most funding for their company Chameleon Grips, decorative grips that are already being sold at tennis tournaments. Their funding from the panel was $900, however they also received the $500 gift card from Sam’s Club, a national sponsor of YEA!

Viva la Fitness & Yoga, Jena and Maya Srikanth’s company, also received $900 in funding. They will be presenting fitness and yoga classes geared towards teenage girls.

Kelsey Ewing of K-Bear Cares received $350 that will help fund her stuffed animal company where part of her profits will be donated to charities designated by her customers.

Maegan Vitale of Vitalian Bakery also received $350. More importantly, she made a business connection with a local baker who will partner and mentor her efforts.

A plant self watering system, Hydro Solve, is the brain child of River Alexander, Hannah McKay and Rohan Mishra. They received $300 but are more excited about a local solar company interested in mentoring their project.

They are all winners.

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy was started in Rochester, NY in 2004 and has been hosted by the Clovis Chamber since 2013. Applications for the next class starting in November 2015 are available at

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