Middle Schoolers Swim With the Sharks!
By: Amber Shaw, Site Coordinator, Ocoee Middle School
On Wednesday, April 12th, all fourteen of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida After School Zone sites came together to showcase their companies and inventions in the 4th Annual Young Entrepreneur Shark Tank Event. This program encourages youth in the community to come together, develop basic entrepreneurial skills, and then put those skills into practice by presenting their product and detailed business plan to potential investors. Members worked tirelessly for months to perfect their product and build their company from the ground-up. Through this process, they had to consider company names and roles, production costs, marketing strategies and much more.
Within both the Shark Tank and the Entrepreneur Exhibit Hall, members were able to pitch their inventions and companies to peers and entrepreneurs from the community. Coming in first place in the Shark Tank, Wolf Lake Middle School presented their Fido Feeder which featured a technologically-advanced treat dispensary system for your furry friends. Runner up in The Tank, Meadowbrook Middle School, featured their SMART PACX; a product that charges a phone and has speakers for the modern-day student. In our Entrepreneur Exhibit Hall, Robinswood Middle School took home the win with their S.P.I.K.E Products; these customizable, useful item holders were the perfect organization tool for anyone on-the-go. Runner up for the Exhibit Hall was Meadow Woods Middle School with their Link Up invention! Congratulations to all of our participants for a job well done.
Overall, this event was a great experience for all involved. Members walked away with a new interest in entrepreneurialism and the necessary skills to put what they’ve learned into action. Of course, a program of this magnitude takes a community effort. The After School Zone would like to thank: Nova Southeastern University for graciously hosting our event; SunTrust Bank for their constant support and guidance through this process; The Orange County Citizens’ Commission for Children for funding the After School Zone and encouraging our members to try new things; community partners Karen Peters from Pretty on Purpose and Mike Boslet from Orlando Photo booth Events; and, finally, our wonderful judges: Connie Stafford from Heart of Florida United Way, Chris Duffy of We Throw It! LLC, Jucylene Stewart from SunTrust Bank and Angel Moreno from Inmark International, Inc. for offering their guidance and expertise to our young members.