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Budding entrepreneurs make impression on business community at JCC


High school students and future entrepreneurs had the opportunity to present business proposals before a panel of local business experts for cash prizes to make their concepts a reality.

“The students are judged based on their feasibility to the way they present themselves and their project,” said Dawn M. Robinson, instructor of business at Jefferson Community College. “We tell them it’s like a sales pitch.”

The Entrepreneurship Day conference held at Jefferson Community College on Thursday included presentations by the top three submissions. The business proposals ranged from a coffee shop/teen hangout to a gift-making company to a school for video gamers. The top competitors were chosen from five teams from area schools, including Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services program, Watertown High School, South Jefferson Central School and Lyme Central School, who made initial presentation the Monday prior.

The contestants presented in front of three judges: Eric F. Constance, regional director of the New York State Small Business Development Center, Sara C. Carpenter, of the Greater Watertown-North County Chamber of Commerce, representing the Workforce Investment Board, and F. Marshall Weir, marketing director for the Jefferson County Local Development Corp.

The first place winner was Watertown High School junior David Enderle with his business proposal “Gamers’ University.” He gave a charismatic pitch outlining the potential investment and profit of a company that would be a hands-on gaming course that offers extensive lessons to people interested in making a career out of gaming or getting better at hobby gaming for XBox 360 games. He won $500 to start his business.

“What makes us so unique is our relaxed atmosphere,” he said. “A career and a lifestyle are waiting for you at Gamers’ University.”

In second place, “Social Brew” with Lyme Central School students Jordan Bancroft, Erica Gardner, Meghan N. Goutremount, Rachel Mac and Riley Thomas won $250 to start their business. Social Brew presented the idea of a local coffee shop and teen hangout for the village of Chaumont.

“Our survey said people would want a coffee shop,” Miss Goutremount said.

The team’s goal is to keep prices low to target young people.

She said people want a coffee shop because there are few other local options in Chaumont. For promotions, the students said they would have movie and game nights at the shop and use “word of mouth.”

They would need a building or rented space, coffee and espresso machines, paper products and glassware for “in-house” customers.

The students were followed in third place by “BasketCase: Crazy About Gifts” by Courtney Ackerman from South Jefferson High School. She won $150 to start her business. BasketCase is a business to sell personalized basket gifts.

She said she would save money by buying in bulk, but present gifts with items selected personally for the recipient based on their interests.

She said her business model would revolve around creating a personal experience for her customers. She proposed having a consultation with her customer about the intended recipient of the basket to find out their interests, such as favorite colors or favorite sports teams.

She said the baskets would be perfect gifts for Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, birthdays or baby showers. She would save money by buying items in bulk and selling the baskets based on their size.

The theme of Thursday’s event was Go Green Initiative. Jefferson Business Club President Reagan M. Palmer said that theme was chosen because more and more customers are favoring businesses that make an effort to be environmentally friendly.

Ms. Palmer said members of the local business community provided students with valuable experience. A keynote speaker, James S. Juczak, talked to the students about how he not only made it his business, but his way of life to live off the grid and construct buildings from almost 90 percent reusable items.

Jay M. Matteson, Jefferson County agricultural coordinator, also presented “Come Farm with Us,” in which he talked about using agriculture to promote the north country’s growth. He said being environmentally friendly is one way to save costs and help the community.

Other participants who did not present on Thursday were BOCES “Bri’s & Dees Tired feet, a project by Andrea Dees and Brianna McDonald, and Lyme Central School “DIY” project by Michaela Gaylord. Students from Indian River also attended the program.

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