ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM STORIES
Maddie's Little Ballers (MLB)
During the pandemic in 2020, Maddie Norman created a safe way for kids to have fun during summer break. Maddie’s Little Ballers (MLB) is a camp made to develop children’s fundamental basketball skills for the future.
In our interview, Maddie told us more about her journey as an entrepreneur and managing her business while attending Magnificat High School.
At the 2022 thinkBIG! Summit, Maggie Chen won the grand prize in the small business track of the thinkBIG! Challenge with her business El Puente; a Spanish-English language exchange program.
In our interview, Maggie told us more about her journey as an entrepreneur and managing her business while attending Laurel School.
Over the past two and a half years, Marykate Kessinger has pursued her passions of baking and helping others create memories and celebrate through her custom cakes and cookies business, Marycakes Delights.
In our interview, Marykate told us more about her journey as an entrepreneur and managing her business while attending Beaumont School.
Hathaway Brown’s HathCaff
A group of hard-working young women have learned to tackle challenging problems, think creatively, and turn mistakes into growth opportunities through running their school’s café. From forming partnerships with local businesses to expanding into catering, the executive team of Hathaway Brown’s HathCaff continues to innovate and challenge themselves to provide high quality service to their community.
We spoke with Madeleine Williams, CEO of the HathCaff, about her experience as the head of the executive team and her growth in entrepreneurship. She shared with us the individuals that have had an impact on her entrepreneurial journey in addition to the challenges of running a successful business as a student.
Beaumont's Business Scholars
Taking initiative, thinking creatively, and recognizing business opportunities are just a few of the skills that the students are developing through Beaumont’s Business Scholars Program. The girls are gaining hands-on, real-world experiences through the school’s student run Smoothie Shack in addition to creating and developing their own businesses. By working together, they are learning to think analytically, solve any problem that arises, and persist through failures with the courage and excitement to try again.
We spoke with Tara Limestoll, one of the club moderators, about the program and the incredible impact it is having on the students.
With financial literacy rates on the decline, a group of students from Hoover High School came together with a mission to instill financial literacy in every child and empower them with the skills needed for a successful future. The Finlit team wants to encourage learning in a fun and unique way, so they developed their product Budget or Bust, an interactive and engaging board game designed to teach kids budgeting, saving, and investing. The team worked tirelessly to design the game, recruit investors, and begin their journey running a company all within a few months, but all that hard work paid off as they took home the title of National Champions at the 2021 Junior Achievement National Student Leadership Summit!
After noticing the lack of food delivery services available in Lakeside Ohio, a vacation community along Lake Erie, Daniel McNamara and his friends decided to fill the need with Porchside Deliveries. From an early age, Daniel was interested in entrepreneurship. While most kids wanted to become famous and play for the NFL or NBA, he looked up to the individuals that built America, hoping to become the next Ford or Carnegie. As a student at St. Edward High School, Daniel worked throughout the school year to develop his business plan and on Memorial Day of 2021, the team launched Porchside!
Fast fashion and uninformed consumers are detrimental to the well-being of our planet, but one local high school student is determined to change that. Lucy Bogen’s passion for the environment drove her to learn a new skill and launch a business with a mission to create positive change in the fashion industry. She goes beyond providing upcycled clothing alternatives to her peers, but also utilizes her platform to educate individuals on the dangers of supporting a fast fashion lifestyle. We spoke with Lucy about her experience as a young entrepreneur and the future of her business, Sustainable Stitches.
Jonathan Pacheco, a student at Thomas W. Harvey High School, was on the hunt for a way to express his creativity and develop a new skill when he discovered resin. After overcoming a learning curve with the new material, he soon perfected his designs and Cozy Coasters was born! With the help of dedicated mentors, Jonathan further developed his business plan and crafted the pitch that would ultimately win him first place at Harvey High School’s 2021 Business Plan Competition.
Learn more about Jonathan’s start-up journey and the importance of an entrepreneurial mindset in his interview below!
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.