Pitches pay off at YEA! Investor Panel Event

Photo courtesy of the Dearborn Area Chamber of Commerce
Dearborn High School sophomore Demetrius Harmon and Annapolis High School freshman Carrington Bell were winners at the YEA! Investor Panel Event April 9. the pair received $1,025 and represented the Dearborn Area Chamber of Commerce at the regional competition in Rochester New York May 2.

-Local Young Entrepreneurs Obtain Funding to Launch Enterprises –

DEARBORN — Twenty-two middle and high school students from southeast Michigan pitched their business ideas before a panel of six real-life investors to compete for funding at the inaugural Young Entrepreneurs Academy Investor Panel Presentation Event at the Arab American National Museum.

The students presented before representatives from some of the area’s biggest companies as well as an audience filled with family, friends and members of the community, for the opportunity to gain funding for their original ideas that could be the next big thing.

About 100 students made up this year’s YEA! class, which is made up of public, private and home schooled students from Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. The Investor Panel Event is one of the program’s three major events that take place over the duration of the nine-month program.

The Investor Panel donated monetary contributions and in-kind donations, as well as their support and encouragement in their belief that they too can make a job — not take a job — at any age.

The investor panel consisted of:
Fouad Ashkar, manager of Ethnic Marketing, DTE Energy

Sean McGraw, swner, Sean McGraw State Farm Insurance Agency

Lisa Dufresne, managing partner, Del Taco

Harold Drews, manager of Business Development, SunGlo Services

Marshelle Brooks, Community Outreach Department event coordinator, Health Alliance Plan

Ed Weglarz, executive vice president, AFPD; Foundation chair, Dearborn Heights Rotary

The funds were divided and allocated to the businesses that the investors felt had a well thought out plan, and an idea that had a good chance at success. Addie Langford, Director of PR and Marketing of TechShop Detroit-Allen Park also donated a one-month membership for one of the student businesses to aid in the startup process.

The student businesses included:
• More 4 the Door, a retail business which creates a product uniquely designed to display pictures, keepsakes and memorable moments on any refrigerator door including stainless steel, received $300. Owner Stephen Lietz is a junior at Divine Child High School.

• Leverage, a revolutionary cup holder that holds beverages off the edge of the table, received $360. Owner Ali Nasrallah is a junior at Dearborn High School.

• Atlantis Gardens, an online company that sells an aquaponics food production system using a fish tank, received $400. Owner Aleks Oslapas is a junior at DHS.

• Do Re Mi, a music studio specializing in providing a fun atmosphere for children to learn playing the piano, received $650. Owners are Cham Smadi, a junior at Fordson High School, and Reema Smadi, a freshman at FHS.

• Fashion Crate, a product-based company which provides a variety of handmade accessories and clothing that are helping the environment while offering fun and fashionable products, received $525. Owners Zeinab Alhassan is a sophomore at DHS, Maya Lyght is a freshman at Southfield Christian, Alexandria Williams is an eighth-grader at Bryant Middle School, Amelia Tennant is a seventh-grader at Bryant, and Yasmeen Wooten is a sophomore at DHS.

• Day 2 Night, a retailer specializing in men’s reversible ties, received $475. Owner Caleb Laster is a seventh-grader at Jefferson Middle School in St. Clair Shores.

• Society of Outstanding African American Students, a non-profit organization aimed at creating a virtual network for students of color to connect and discover community service, leadership, and scholarship opportunities, received $450. Owner and founder Victoria Williams is a junior at DHS.

• Detroit’s Creative Apparel, a Detroit branded clothing retailer, received $1,025. Owners Demetrius Harmon, a sophomore at DHS, and Carrington Bell, a freshman at Annapolis High School represented the Dearborn Area Chamber YEA! program at the regional competition in Rochester, N.Y., on May 2.

• Find My Keys, a product to help locate missing keys, received $700. Owner Ahmad Khan is a junior at DHS.

• Infinite Console, a instructional website designed to help repair gaming consoles, received $350. Owner Nick Blakey is a freshman at Detroit Renaissance High School.

• Up n Out Energy Drink, an all natural fresh juice drink, received $290. Owners are Adnan Rammouni, a senior at DHS, David Bermudez, a senior at DHS and Aaron Szostek, a sixth-grader at Bryant.

• Pazippees, a retail pajama company, received $475. Owner Marcedes-Antoniya Preston, 12, is home schooled.

Students will now begin marketing and selling their products and services, and preparing for the YEA! Trade Show May 31, where they will showcase their goods to the public. This event is free and open to the public. Watch our website www.dearbornareachamber.org for more details.