High School Students Rise To The Challenge

December 18, 2019

Whether it be pre-college, undergraduate and graduate studies, or through certificate programs, the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship challenges students to reach new heights, develop ideas for businesses, and become the entrepreneurs of their lives. On Monday, December 9, ten teams from surrounding high schools were given the opportunity to start their entrepreneurial journey.

Rising Starters is an annual high school entrepreneurial pitch competition hosted by the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship at which teams of local students can compete for cash prizes to fund their business ideas and newly formed businesses. The Close School’s Entrepreneur in Residence, Roger Lee, helped students throughout the competition preparation and execution. Students learned skills such as recognizing needs, developing opportunities and moving ideas forward – all crucial skills that students can apply to any field they pursue.

After competing internally at their respective high schools, the top team from each school earned the opportunity to pitch at Behrakis Grand Hall at Drexel University on December 9, 2019. Students heard from the Dean of the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship, Donna De Carolis, as well as Evan Ehlers, the founder of Close School born, non-profit company, Sharing Excess. Evan, also the Close School’s first ever student, gave the keynote address at the competition. 

“I was once in your shoes. I knew I had a passion for what I was doing. The Close School gave me the tools to turn my passion into a movement, and a career that I could transition to full-time after I graduated”, he said.

Five out of the ten competing teams were chosen to proceed to the final round where they pitched in front of a panel of judges comprised of Drexel trustees, local and regional CEOs, and Close School faculty to win the top three prizes, $2,500, $1,500 and $1,000. 

Caroline Reitmeyer of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy won first prize with her business, PlasTEKK. Her idea is to turn plastic waste into materials for 3D printers. Caroline plans to use the Drexel prize money to industrialize the process to recycle the plastic she collects and will be donating some to the Hawaii Wildlife Fund

Second place went to Liam LaBarge of William Penn Charter School for his business, reLax, which helps circulate gently used Lacrosse equipment to communities where there is a challenge accessing it. 

Third place went to Joaquin Estevez of the Moorestown Friends School for his business, Quix. Joaquin’s business idea, Quix, is an app designed to expedite the process of buying and selling luxury sneakers on the secondary market. Joaquin’s concept prioritizes faster shipping and a reworked fee system, with a loyalty program to reward repeat customers. Joaquin was awarded $1,000 for his venture. 

Roger Lee commented, “Rising Starters Winter 2019 was a huge success. Each high school student competitor and high school advisor worked extremely hard on their pitches. Their hard work paid off! I was impressed by the fact that the majority of competitors were social entrepreneurs. They are passionate about making the world a much better place for the diverse people that live in it.”

Photos can be seen on the event’s microsite, www.rising-starters.com

Logan Levenson, Communications, Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship

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