Monday, May 14, 2007

Motorola Sponsors Young Entrepeneurs

CHICAGO - Sponsored by the Motorola Foundation and with the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) as a partner, about 75 young, passionate and successful entrepreneurs and Motorola staff members for the second annual Future Founders program, which is hosted by the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center.

Slavko Bekovic and Jose Leon, seniors at Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep, were crowned as the winners of this year's youth entrepreneurship program competition for their business, The Online Scout. Having recently gone through the process of working with college scouts for baseball scholarships they realized there is a need in the market for a Web site that allows student athletes to send their information to scouts and other organizations for added publicity and greater opportunities to play sports in college and professionally. With this concept, The Online Scout was created from the ground up.

"The Future Founders program and all of the mentors helped provide ideas we never even thought of to add to our business plan," commented Bekovic. Leon adds, "We never thought we would be able to turn something we like, such as sports, in to a business that is actually profitable, but we already have eight customers!"

Joshua Taylor and Alexis Isaacs, founders of One Fragrance and seniors at Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep, were the first runner-ups for their company that creates one-of-a-kind fragrances to fit people's personalities. Ryan Braswell and Darrell Jackson, founders of D & R Gaming Tournaments and sophomores at ACE Tech, were the second runner-ups for their video game tournament company that organizes tournaments for young adults who like to compete, play in a safe environment and have a chance to win cash prizes. All six of the winners took home Toshiba Laptop computers as prizes.

"We want to ensure continuing to inspire students with creative ideas to funnel them in a positive outlet in the business world and also introduce the students to new things, such as their first taste of sushi, that may not traditionally be exposed to them," said David Weinstein, president of the CEC. "The high-caliber of mentors we have involved in this program are extremely dedicated and in the case of Karan Goel [a 23 year-old from University of Chicago and founder of PrepMe that recently made BusinessWeek's list of Top 25 entrepreneurs under 25] may only be a few years older than the students!"

Over the course of an entire school year, the mentors share their real-world business experiences, help students fine-tune their business plans and work on their presentation skills. Future Founders works closely with the NFTE program to provide a comprehensive experience to the students.

The Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center (CEC) is a nonprofit affiliate of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce that seeks to make a perceptible and lasting economic impact on the Chicagoland region by providing a comprehensive support network for entrepreneurs through sales and client development; financing; support resources; strategic advisory programs; and community development.

The program successfully brings together several elements, including diversity, to inspire students through education and practical business experience. Future Founders program also does well in matching mentors with students who have similar cultural backgrounds.

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