2019-2020 YEAR IN REVIEW

VYEF programs are free to educators and high school students, empowering them with new entrepreneurial business skills.

Educator-Workshop1

Educator Workshops

Educator Workshop was held September 19, 2019 at the MAGNET location.

This workshop was targeted to Educators seeking more academic information on entrepreneurship. Attendees found this experience invaluable both on the content of the workshop and the ability to network with fellow educators.

Thinkfest Ideation Workshop

Thinkfest is presented in partnership with John Carroll University’s Entrepreneurship Minor and Muldoon Center for Entrepreneurship.

Thinkfest was held October 7, 2019 and October 8, 2019 at the John Carroll University. The high school students were enthusiastic and gained new skills and knowledge on enhancing their entrepreneurial mindset when tasked with developing and pitching new business ideas.

The day was moderated by Dr. Jeffrey Stamp, creator of Baked! Lays Potato Chips, the Olive Garden breadstick, and many other well-known brands.

Thinkfest is presented in partnership with John Carroll University’s Entrepreneurship Minor and Muldoon Center for Entrepreneurship.

Thinkfest Ideation Workshop

Thinkfest Ideation Workshop

Thinkfest was held October 7, 2019 and October 8, 2019 at the John Carroll University. The high school students were enthusiastic and gained new skills and knowledge on enhancing their entrepreneurial mindset when tasked with developing and pitching new business ideas.

The day was moderated by Dr. Jeffrey Stamp, creator of Baked! Lays Potato Chips, the Olive Garden breadstick, and many other well-known brands.

JCU Dare to Dream (11)

Dare to Dream Retreat

The second annual young women’s day event was held on November 18, 2019 at the Ohio Theatre, in partnership with John Carroll University. This Retreat embraced female high school students to leverage their entrepreneurship, build their confidence and empower young women to pursue their dreams. The event featured three-time Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas!

The students were inspired to be confident in their big ideas, to be vulnerable and share those ideas with others while asking for help, and to set small goals to move toward turning their big ideas into reality.

950 students from 48 schools attended. 75 professional women mentors in attendance.

Young Women’s Day was presented in partnership with John Carroll University’s Entrepreneurship Minor and Muldoon Center for Entrepreneurship.

thinkBIG!

Challenge

The Challenge was open to all high school students. Teams had to submit an entry into one of two categories: Innovation or Small Business.

Semi-finalists received executive coaching from top start-up professionals and were automatically enrolled in the thinkBIG! Summit for their chance to win one of two grand prizes.

Deadline for entries: December 30, 2019

Semifinalists announced: January 13, 2020

Exec. Coaching Days: January 24-25, 2020

Finalists’ live pitch: March 3, 2020

thinkBIG! Summit

Over 300 high school students representing 17 schools gathered in the ballroom at the Tinkham Veale University Center at Case Western Reserve University on Tuesday, March 3, 2020 for the 3rd annual thinkBIG! Summit and Challenge. The students were joined by educators and guests from the Northeast Ohio entrepreneurship community for a full day of programs focused on youth entrepreneurship.

After a high energy opening from emcee Justin Lafazan, co-founder of Next Gen Summit, the day kicked off with a moving keynote presentation from Shane Feldman, Founder & CEO of Count Me In. His inspirational story about creating a social entrepreneurship venture while he was in high school and his focus on authentic leadership and community building kept the audience engaged and set the tone for the remainder of the day.

The keynote presentation was followed by an attendee favorite mini-maker hack-a-thon led by the staff at Upcycle Parts Shop. Each table of students was asked to work as a team to craft an innovative physical product made of recycled materials and to create a short pitch to sell it. From over 40 teams, four finalists were chosen to pitch their product to the 400 audience members. The team from Northern Career Institute won the competition with their idea for a safety kit pack. Each student from that team was awarded a $50 cash prize.

The energy from the competition carried over into a panel discussion featuring several young entrepreneurs who came to Cleveland from various cities in the U.S. to participate in the program. The panelists provided background on their personal journeys as young entrepreneurs and offered specific steps and advice the students could use in their own journeys. The panel included Jacquelyn Aguilera, VFA Fellow, Product Engineer at Indago; Claire Coder, Founder & CEO, Aunt Flow; Tayo Rockson, UYD Management; Bryan Wish, Founder & CEO, BW Missions.

After lunch, the day concluded with the culmination of the thinkBIG! Challenge! The challenge is an online business plan competition consisting of two tracks – Small Business and Innovation. The competition was open to all high school students in Northeast Ohio, offering more than $9,000 in prizes. Out of 164 submissions, 21 semi-finalists advanced to the second round where they received executive coaching sessions to assist with their ideas. Four finalists advanced to present live on stage at the thinkBIG! Summit. Finalists included Cutting Edge Landscaping from Gilmour Academy, The Daily Dose from Magnificat High School, along with SkinDeep and Sleeping Pack from Hathaway Brown School.

The day ended on an extremely high energy note with the challenge winners SkinDeep and Cutting Edge Landscaping each winning $3,000 per team and Veale Innovation trophies. The day provided students opportunities to explore where journeys with an entrepreneurial mindset can lead them.

“People are viewing entrepreneurship as an energy. It is an energy and a mindset that you can apply to whatever you do. Not everyone here is going to walk out of today with their own business, but if we can walk away with the skillset, the mindset that as an entrepreneur: I can tackle problems, I can create new innovative solutions, and I can work with some amazing people, build relationships and have a lot of fun doing it. – That is going to be a win for us all.” ~ Justin Lafazan, co-founder of NextGen Summit. 2020 thinkBIG! Summit Emcee

Keynote Speaker

Shane Feldman

Social Entrepreneur, CEO, and Speaker

Shane Feldman helps audiences activate the leader within and connect more authentically with colleagues and customers. As the Founder & CEO of Count Me In, Shane is the visionary behind the world’s largest millennial-led movement. Over the past decade, Count Me In has initiated tens of thousands of projects worldwide, contributing a value of over $2.6 billion to the global economy through service. Shane has been featured by Larry King, Dr. Oz, ForbesPeople Magazine, and his documentary TV series from A&E follows his community building work. He has worked with some of the world’s most dynamic companies including Google, Microsoft, and The Walt Disney Company, and been recognized by The White House, The Prime Minister of Canada, and The United Nations for his achievements in community leadership, and for empowering human connection to optimize planet, people and profit.

Follow Shane on Twitter at ‎@ShaneFeldman

Check out Shane’s highlight reel

Emcee

Justin Lafazan

Next Gen Summit

Justin Lafazan is the Co-founder and CEO of Next Gen Summit, the premier community and conference for millennial entrepreneurs. Since its inception in 2014, Next Gen Summit has served as a vehicle to bring together the world’s most talented young entrepreneurs to connect, collaborate, and inspire each other, and give them the resources they need to be successful.

Justin is an experienced entrepreneur, consultant, speaker, investor, and best-selling author.

Panelists

Jacquelyn-Aguilera
Jacquelyn Aguilera, Indago
Jacquelyn Aguilera is a recent graduate focused on the intersection between technology, entrepreneurship, and accessibility. At only 22, she has worked globally in healthcare and renewable energy. Her background has led her to a wide range of roles from Business Strategy Analyst to Lead Engineer in industry-shaking initiatives. In 2019, her team completed a design for the world’s first non-profit solar panel factory. Jacquelyn is currently living in Cleveland as a Venture for America Fellow where she identifies and develops incoming medical technology.
Claire-Coder
Claire Coder, Aunt Flow
Claire Coder is the founder and CEO of Aunt Flow. On a mission to ensure everyone has access to menstrual products, Aunt Flow stocks hundreds of companies across the world with their 100% organic cotton tampons and pads. Coder launched her first company at age 16, designed a bag for Vera Bradley that sold out in 24 hours, and has her own line of GIFs. The 22-year-old founder has been featured in TeenVogue, Forbes, and starred in TLC’s Girl Starter Season 1. When she is not jamming out to Macklemore, she is pretending like she knows how to run Google ads.
Tayo-Rockson
Tayo Rockson, UYD Management
Tayo Rockson is a writer, speaker, consultant, and media personality who runs UYD Management – a strategic leadership and consulting firm that helps organizations incorporate sustainable diversity and inclusion practices. As someone who has lived on 4 continents, he is an authority in communicating effectively across cultures. In addition to that, he’s been named a “Top 40 Millennial Influencer” by New Theory magazine. He hosts the popular As Told By Nomads podcast and his book Use Your Difference To Make A Difference is based on how to connect and communicate in a cross-cultural world.
bryan
Bryan Wish, BW Missions
Bryan Wish is the Founder and CEO of BW Missions, whose clients have included Allen Gannett, Rick Smith Founder (Axon/TASER), David Schnurman, Nir Eyal (Author Hooked & Indistractable), Kairos, and the Atlanta Hawks & Braves. He spends his waking hours empowering visionaries and brands to build a path connecting their message to the people who care about it. Realizing the world is a lonely place, Bryan’s work is rooted in helping others find their belonging and
believes the faster people can find the path to the people that understand them, the faster they can accelerate their dreams forward.
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