ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM STORIES
From a junior in high school with a passion for sewing to the founder of her own business, Bethany Husni is a dedicated entrepreneur who strives for inclusivity in every aspect of her life. We were first introduced to Bethany when she submitted 31:25 Dresses into the 2017 Veale Venture Challenge, now the thinkBIG! Challenge, where she pitched her custom, handmade dress company to a group of over 600 students, educators, and entrepreneurs. Since then, her business has evolved into a custom sorority letter shirt company. Today she is a full-time student at Belmont University, running the entire business out of her dorm room!
In our interview, Bethany told us more about what it is like being a young entrepreneur and the experiences she has learned from it in the past five years.
From Lemonade to Landscaping
Kaden Ullom and Cooper Lyons, seniors at Bay High School, competed on March 2, 2021 at the thinkBIG! Summit where they pitched, Scaper, their innovative solution which connects homeowners to high school and college landscapers. Individually, they own and operate their own landscaping companies, giving them firsthand knowledge of the struggles many homeowners face when managing a landscaping project.
We spoke with both Kaden and Cooper about their experiences being founders and what they have learned from being young entrepreneurs.
Young Entrepreneur Institute
The Veale Youth Entrepreneurship Forum has partnered with the Young Entrepreneur Institute at University School since 2012 to further the education of entrepreneurship to students across Northeast Ohio. Their variety of programs for students K-12, educators, and the entrepreneurship ecosystem has impacted the lives of thousands in the community.
We spoke with Jessica Dragar, the Program Manager for K-8 Relationships at YEI, about her experience with the organization and the importance of their work.
Upcycle Parts Shop
The Veale Youth Entrepreneurship Forum has partnered on a mini-hackathon session at the thinkBIG! Summit for the past several years with Upcycle Parts Shop, a leader in sustainable arts and crafts supplies. As 2020 presented new challenges to live programming we created a new program called Upcycle: Enterprise, to present a unique, engaging hybrid mini-hackathon model. Students have the opportunity to participate whether they are learning from home or at school.
We followed-up with Nicole McGee, Co-founder and Executive Director at Upcycle, to learn more about their social entrepreneurship model, Upcycle programs and how they are adjusting in 2020.
Cutting Edge Landscaping
On March 3, 2020 Michael Snelling, Matty Benisek, and Vinny Bandwen from Gilmour Academy won the small business track competition of the thinkBIG! Challenge with their business Cutting Edge Landscaping and took home the grand prize of $3,000.
We followed up with Matt Benisek at the end of the summer to see how their business was doing.
At the age of 15, Shaker Heights native Ethan Holmes launched Holmes Made Foods LLC with his grandfather’s applesauce recipe and ambitious dreams of entrepreneurial success. Today, Holmes Mouthwatering Applesauce is available in hundreds of retail locations throughout the midwest, including Kroger, Heinen’s, Whole Foods, Marc’s, Giant Eagle Market District and sold online through his website.