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Young Entrepreneurs Academy to present business concepts to public on May 31

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: LISA CHANG - Members of the Young Entreprenuer Academy investor panel check out business plans and proposals from Beaverton-area students at the event to determine which businesses would receive funding on Wednesday evening, April 16.With one student moving on to the regional competition in Texas and several others flush with funding from a panel of local businesspeople, participants in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy are on the move after the “Shark Tank”-style competition held Wednesday evening, April 16, at Portland Community College’s Rock Creek Campus.

Competing among nine other Beaverton-area students, Snigdha Kanandibhotla took top prize for her “Speak! And Be Heard,” a tutorial app for smartphones and tablets designed to help users refine their public speaking skills. Receiving the full $1,270.24 she requested to launch the business, Kanandibhotla will advance to the Western Regional Competition in Frisco, Texas, on May 8 and 9. If successful there, she’ll progress to the national competition in Washington, CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: LISA CHANG - Snigdha Kanadibhotla received $1,270 to help launch her Speak! And Be Heard speech tutorial application during the Young Entrepreneurs Academy investor panel event on April 16.

Drawing from a pot of $6,000, other burgeoning businesses that received the full amount of funding students requested include “My Heavenly Helpers,” Kristine Taylor’s concept to train staff to help seniors become proficient with social media and digital technology, and Cyan Perry’s “Hello Cyan” line of vibrantly colorful, whimsical greeting cards. My Heavenly Helpers received $1,109, while Hello Cyan was granted $980.35.

In the Beaverton Area Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event, a panel of eight local investors listened to eight business proposals from nine students who’ve been learning the entrepreneurial ropes through a weekly after-school class at Beaverton High School.

Panelist Rhonda Coakley, a member of the chamber’s board of directors and business manager of Executive Suites at The Round at Beaverton Central, said the event was inspiring to students as well as her business colleagues.

“It was just a great opportunity to bring families, businesses and community stakeholders together,” she said. “It was a great showcase for supporting our kids.”

Some of her fellow panelists included Ava Roasteria founder Amy Saberiyan; Jerry Jones, Jr., vice president of Lanphere Construction and Development; Portland Community College’s Rock Creek Campus President Sandra Fowler-Hill; and Matt Krill of the IBM Corp.

By design, the panelists knew next to nothing about the students’ proposals before the April 16 panel.

“They purposely didn’t give us any information before we got there,” she said. “We learned little snippets (during the day) the entrepreneurs were going to show that night.”

After taking in the presentations, the panelists went into jury-style deliberations for less than 30 minutes to decide who would get what amount.

“We had good agreement on the top three, and had great discussions on the others about if we were going to fund them, and what amount,” Coakley said, praising the sheer inventiveness of the proposals. “These kids are just super intelligent. I didn’t have that confidence when I was 16 years old.”

Noting all the students delivered their presentations with confidence, Coakley said the panel liked Speak! and Be Heard for its novel, high-tech approach to speech tutorials, Hello Cyan for the cards’ brilliant colors and the fact they’re already for sale at the Washington Square Hallmark store. They agreed that My Heavenly Helpers was novel for its focus on seniors and technology.

“There are a lot of people out there training to use social media, but this is very targeted to get seniors who want a closer connection with their families,” she said.

Taylor, who said she was pleased to get full funding for My Heavenly Helpers, felt confident going into the investor panel event.

“Before the investors had even revealed who they funded and how much they were giving, I had already received offers of investment from two different people,” she said. “This made me extremely happy and even more confident that this business could succeed.”

Taylor, who bought the domain name for My Heavenly Helpers on Tuesday, is preparing herself to present her business— along with her fellow young entrepreneurs — to the general public at the Beaverton Trade Show at Cedar Hills Crossing mall on Saturday, May 31.

“I’m so excited to start up my business and start connecting senior citizens to their loved ones more as soon as possible,” she said.

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