Monday, January 16th, 2017

Students Obtain funding to Launch Enterprises

Nine high school students at Ruben A. Cirillo High School in Gananda pitched their business ideas before a panel of five real-life investors to compete for funding at the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) Investor Panel Presentation Event in Gananda. 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!

The event was held in the auditorium at Ruben A. Cirillo High School in Gananda Central School District. This year’s YEA! class is comprised of nine freshman and sophomore students. The Investor Panel Event is one of the program’s three “big events” that take place over the duration of the nine-month program.

On Thursday night, 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 the following business professionals: Herb Besaw-President and CEO of Spoon Events,  Mike Faulkner-VP of Europe & the Americas at Garlock Sealing Technologies, Donna Figel-CFO & IT Director at Alpco Recycling, Patti Holdraker-Co-owner and Director of Advertising at The Times of Wayne County newspaper, Terri Nichols- Treasurer and member of the Gananda Rotary Club.

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.

The investments were as follows:          Char-B-Q, a gas grill attachment that gives meats a smoky, charcoal-grilled flavor, received $1,000. Owner Daniel Mochan is a sophomore.

• Cosmo’s Cupcakes, a retail business which produces and sells cupcakes in unique, mason jar packaging, received $500. Owner Evan Donaldson is a freshman.

• M&O Technologies, a company that manufactures and sells The Lap Tray, an all-in-one TV tray, cup holder, and cell phone caddy optimized for the serious video game enthusiast, received $600. Owners Marty LaFica and Owen Howard are sophomores.

• Pet a Pup, a pet therapy service for college students and the elderly, received $450. Owners Erich Wolf and Demetria Woodard are sophomores.

• SPORT PRO INC., an innovative sports company that creates and sells fog-proof ski goggles called The Flip, received $1,600. Owner Jonathan Liebert, a freshman, was selected by the Investor Panel to advance to the Saunders Scholars Bright Ideas Business Plan Competition this spring.

• Storm’s Stick On, an adhesive for mobile phones designed to stick to the inside of pants pockets, received $850. Owner Nick Bergstrom is a sophomore.

• Whoa-Glow, a custom apparel design company specializing in fluorescent printing and school spirit, received $500. Owner Justin Rooney is a sophomore.

Students will now begin marketing and selling their products and services, and preparing for the YEA! Trade Show to showcase their goods to the general public. The Trade Show will be held on Saturday, May 31 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Eastview Mall. This event is free and open to the public.


The Young Entrepreneurs Academy, or YEA!  is a groundbreaking educational program that takes students in grades six through twelve through the process of starting and running real businesses over the course of a full academic year. Students work in close cooperation with local leaders of industry, community members, and educators to develop ideas and objectives, write business plans, pitch potential investors, obtain funding, register with governmental agencies, develop their brand identity and much more! By the end of the class, students own and operate fully functioning businesses that can be carried on after graduation.