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Young Napa entrepreneurs take top awards with power packed presentations

Young Napa entrepreneurs take top awards with power packed presentations

  • Updated

Leave it to a young entrepreneur to build a business around magic.

Vintage High School student Tomas Alas and his business, Magic Man Entertainment, won first place and $1,000 cash prize at the 10th Annual Youth Entrepreneurship Business Plan Competition.

In just 12 minutes delivered his plan with great flair and even worked in a few tricks to wow the judges at the event, which was held April 7 at NVC.

Six high school teams and five college teams competed in the highly competitive, multi-layered challenge.

Each year, Napa Valley College hosts the competition, which is open to Napa, Sonoma and Marin high school and college students who want to explore the world of business. Business plans submitted for the competition are divided into two divisions – high school and college.

Youth have the opportunity to develop business ideas, with the support of Napa Valley College small business advisors and business professors, as well as local high school instructors.

Supportive parents, teachers, family and friends attended the final presentations on April 7, where a common theme unfolded—businesses with a purpose for the greater good.

“My parents came to this country with just a backpack and some clothes, nothing else,” reported Cinthya Cisneros, first place winner in the college division who presented her dream bakery business, La Cheve.

“This competition allowed our vision for La Cheve to become clear, and for that I thank you.”

“Presenting a PowerPoint was extremely nerve racking, but the process helped me practice my communication skills and taught me how to pitch a business to a group of people, investors, and the community,” said Samantha Wachowski, a NVC student.

Wachowski and teammate Richie Vedar presented their business, Lifestyle Fitness, and won second place.

NVC student, Megan Perez appreciates being pulled out of her comfort zone because she knows it will help her with public speaking in the future.

“This project has taught me there is much more planning involved in a business than I thought. When I open a business in the future, I will know to cover all of these aspects to ensure success!”

Perez plans to use her prize money to further her education and become a successful businesswoman.

“It was so gratifying to see my students work so diligently on their business plans and presentations,” reported NVC business instructor, Bob Derbin.

“Their passion is inspiring, and I am sure that we are going to see great things from these young entrepreneurs in the future.”

St. Helena High School student, Catherine Morse, thought the whole thing was stressful, but in the end it was worth the learning experience.

“I was very nervous, but by the end of it I warmed up. I didn’t do this for the money. I did it for the experience and it was a great one!”

“The YEP program forces the students to see beyond their time in high school and understand how much work goes into building a business,” said Sarah Geoff, culinary and hospitality instructor at St. Helena High School.

“Even if the student has no interest in becoming an entrepreneur, this exercise is relevant because they make better employees when they understand the whole picture.”

“The change we saw in our son, once his ideas were put to paper, was amazing,” reported Victor and Stacey Alas, parents of Tomas Alas, first place winner in the high school division.

“He learned more about his business by reviewing the data, expenses, sales and trends.

“A huge part of my job is to connect our community,” said Charlie Monahan, interim director of Economic and Workforce Development. “Everywhere we have infused the entrepreneurship experience into high school and college classes, I have seen students have an authentic experience that has tremendous meaning.”

“Students gain transferable skills such as project management, planning, research, communication skills as well as public speaking and team building,” he added.

“They obtain work skills such as word processing, spreadsheets and presentation software as well as customer service and interacting with business owners.”

“The student’s creativity gave me so much hope for the future,” concluded Molly Stuart, YEP Program Manager, Napa Valley College.

“With support from businesses such as Petaluma Poultry and lenders like Opportunity Fund, and small business development centers, these students reach beyond the traditional classroom to develop innovative products and business ideas.”

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