November 20-21, 2017
LeConte Event Center
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
- 1,617 total attendees
- 72 schools
- 92 firms
- 13 competitions (including Business Plan)
- 7 states (Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee)
Southern Regional Business Plan Competition
- Elysium, Bearden High School
- AuNaturale Spa and Hair, Inc., Oakland High School
- Extreme Adventures, East Hamilton High School
- The Animal Kingdom, Inc., Loretto High School
- Alpha and Omega, Lawrence County High School
- Kutt Loose, Siegel High School
- Global Goodies, Parkway West High School
- Arrow Shipping, Parkway South High School
- VIVID+, Parkway West High School
Congratulations to all the winners, and to Global Goodies, Elysium, and AuNaturale Spa and Hair, Inc who will be going to the 2018 National Business Plan Competition!
Results for Top 10 teams in Advanced Website, Booth Design, Company Branding, Company Newsletter, E-Commerce Website, Elevator Pitch, Human Resources, Impact Marketing, Marketing, Sales Materials, Salesmanship, and Video Commercial can be found at the Competitions Results page.
View Competition Results
Social Media Contest Winners
Bucket List, Waubonsie Valley High School, Aurora, IL
For a comprehensive overview of their firm’s conference and exhibition experience:
VIVID+, Parkway West High School, Chesterfield, MO
For their great timelapse of the exhibition space and all the booths:
The Cozy Company, Stewarts Creek High School, Smyrna, TN
For their wonderful behind-the-scenes video of their class trip:
Thank You to Our Judges
On behalf of the VEI, we would like to say a big thank you to the following individuals who helped with the judging of the business plan competitions and all the live competitions the day of the conference and exhibition. The success of the conference would not have happened without their help.
Jutta Bangs, Director TSBDC Oak Ridge, TN
Richard Bettis, Sr. Commercial Loan Officer, Highland Union Bank
Cliff Claudell, President, Greater Knoxville Score Chapter
Felicia Demos, CFO, Demos’ Restaurants
Bruce Hayes, Director, Tennessee Small Business Development Center
Stephen Jenkins, Knoxville Entrepreneur Center
Tabitha King, Regal Title, LLC
Christopher Salute, Asst. Dean, Long Island University Global
Laura Overstreet, Sr. Business Specialist, TSBDC
Teresa Sylvia, Business Specialist, TSBDC
Doug Minter, Knoxville Chamber Director of Small Business Development
Linda Ousley, Former VE facilitator
Amy Pangelinan, Market President, Highland Union Bank
Pam Thurman, CTE Core Consultant
From serving as competition judges, to providing marketing advice, to making connections to real-world professionals and opportunities, volunteers play hundreds of different roles in order to help transform VE students into business professionals. In honor of the 2017 National Volunteer Week, we proudly feature stories shared by VE participants to recognize some of the people who generously contribute their time and talents to help VE students succeed.
Jump to a story
Bakersfield Local Business Partners – Building The Pyramid with strong support
Felicia Demos – Serving students with restaurant business expertise
Doug Haaland – Providing inspiration about insurance
Naomi Hogarty – Producing quality commercials and quality students
Amy Owens – Keeping students up-to-date about HR
Roosevelt High School VE Students – Saving the community during tax season
Dean Scheske – Proving how volunteers are incredible assets
Tom Smith – Leading a team of Deloitte volunteers to mentor VE students
Mike Stepanovich – Energizing California students
Burt Wallerstein – Helping make winning business pitches
Douglas Weber – Dedicating years of service to students
Bakersfield Local Business Partners
Building The Pyramid with strong support
Numerous local business partners including Muscle Grub, CrossFit OD, and Fit Pantry helped support VE by helping conduct interviews, reviewing student resumes and cover letters, mentoring VE company The Pyramid’s CFO, reviewing the company’s financials, reviewing the company’s business plan, listening to the business plan presentation and practicing Q&A with the business plan team, volunteering as judges at the California State Trade Show, allowing students to visit their businesses, sharing real world knowledge, and financially supporting Trade Show field trips.
“We are so thankful to all the volunteers that support Centennial Virtual Business! We couldn’t do it without you! Thank you!”
Jaci Elliott, VE coordinator, Centennial High School, Bakersfield, CA
Be like Bakersfield’s businesses and join the transformation
Understanding VE’s mission and helping students
Felicia Demos, CFO, Demos’ Restaurants, has shared her knowledge and expertise with the VE students in Tennessee for over a decade. Ms. Demos has been a leading judge for numerous VE business plan competitions locally and nationally. She truly believes in VEI and is always available to mentor, judge competitions, or just speak with students.
“We are truly fortunate to have a businesswoman that understands VE’s mission and continues to support and help our teachers and students. Thank you Felicia Demos!”
Cindy Boyd, Midwest and Southern VE Regional Director
Be like Felicia and join the transformation
Providing inspiration about insurance
A parent of a former VE CEO, Doug Haaland, Mid-South Regional President, Humana Inc., has been a mentor for Bearden High School’s VE program for 5 years. Mr. Haaland’s engagement helped inspire Bearden’s VE company Vitality, Inc to become an insurance brokerage firm.
“Doug Haaland has been a great mentor by sharing his experience and knowledge of the healthcare industry. My students gain a more thorough understanding of the industry and they also are able to brainstorm ideas with his help and he continues to challenge them each year through interactive mentoring sessions.”
Kathy McCoy, VE Coordinator, Bearden High School, Knoxville, TN
Be like Doug and join the transformation
Producing quality commercials and quality students
Naomi Hogarty, Owner, 91 East Productions, has been a true inspiration for the VE students at Westhampton Beach High School for the past four years. Naomi’s long-term mentoring relationship with the VE technology departments has enabled students to produce professional quality commercials for their VE companies. Ms. Hogarty has brought students on tours of MTV, VH1 and ESPN studios in New York City. She is president of Westhampton Beach High School PTO, has served as a member of Westhampton Beach High School’s Business Advisory Board for over 10 years, and organizes the annual Earth Day event at Quogue Wildlife Refuge.
“What is most admirable about Naomi’s mentoring style, is her ability to challenge students to meet their own greatest potentials. Instead of giving them ideas and showing them video footage to use, Naomi instructs students to brainstorm ideas and find clips to present to her in the form of a storyboard for their commercials. Working collaboratively with the students through a series of after school meetings at her studio, Naomi offers guidance and advice to our aspiring producers, videographers, and graphic designers, aiding them in the production of professional quality videos.”
Amy Demchak, VE Coordinator, Westhampton Beach High School, Westhampton Beach, NY
Be like Naomi and join the transformation
Keeping students up-to-date about HR
Amy Owens, VP of Human Resources, Twining, Inc., is responsible for her company’s organizational and employee development. She brings over fifteen years of experience to the table and her expertise includes business leadership, talent acquisition, employment practices, workforce planning, benefits & compensation, and employment relations. Over the past two years, Amy has spent many hours volunteering and working closely with VE students from all over Orange County, California. She has led HR Workshops for Student Leadership Training events, kept students up to date on current laws that affect business, reviewed and provided valuable feedback regarding Employee Manuals of several VE firms, and worked with small groups of students to personally train them on how to handle various HR scenarios that could arise within their firms.
“Amy is the perfect model of a successful industry professional partnership with VEI and we couldn’t be more appreciative of her kindness, generosity, and time.”
Carri Valdez, VE Coordinator, Millikan High School, Long Beach, CA
Be like Amy and join the transformation
Roosevelt High School VE Students
Saving the community during tax season
VE students themselves serve as volunteers by providing tax services every Saturday from February to April to low income, elderly, and disabled members of their community. These students train from November to January to become certified in the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. IRS employees train the students and help oversee the process during tax season. Students do intake, interviews, and help members of their community file income taxes electronically.
“The people of our neighborhood are very low income and so are my students; we have 100% free lunch program at our school. It is a way they can give back and learn a very valuable skill. I am so proud of all they do.”
Linda Jean Voth, VE coordinator, Business & Finance Academy, Roosevelt High School, Fresno, CA
Be like Roosevelt’s students and join the transformation
Proving how volunteers are incredible assets
Dean Scheske from Interim Accounting Solutions has been volunteering to help VE firm Dexacorp from Lakeland High School to establish sound accounting practices for three years. Dean has also been an incredible asset to Mavco, Inc., the VE firm at Milford High School.
“Dean has helped the Accounting Department so much this year from helping us create a new and better general ledger to reviewing our financials and dedicating his time to answer questions over the phone or by email, and even by coming to our class. We really appreciate that he takes time out of his day for us.”
Brett Carne, Dexacorp’s VP of Accounting
Contributed by Wendy Schmitt, VE Michigan State Coordinator; Lakeland High School Coordinator
Be like Dean and join the transformation
Leading a team of Deloitte volunteers to mentor VE students
Tom Smith, Director at Deloitte & Touche, leads a team of volunteers from Deloitte who mentor students from Imagination, Inc. at the HS of Arts, Imagination & Inquiry once a week on a number of aspects of their business. They have been integral in helping the entire company deeply understand aspects of their business model and have mentored them on their business plan presentation as well.
“Deloitte volunteers have been working with VE for nearly 20 years and also mentor students at Ft. Hamilton High School. Tom Smith is a great friend to VE and the students we serve. All of this great work could not have been possible without Joe Delaney, former Deloitte partner, who began the VE/Deloitte volunteer program and continues to work with the students to develop the skills they need to be successful in the next phase of their lives.”
Iris Blanc, Executive Director, VEI
Be like Tom and join the transformation
Energizing California students
Mike Stepanovich is Centennial High School’s VE business mentor. He has helped judge VE competitions for many years would and recently started helping The Pyramid by meeting with the team after school, providing feedback on their business plan presentation, and connecting the students to community members to help with fundraising for attending the 2017 National Business Plan Competition.
“Mike is overall just a positive support for our VE program. Thank you so much for all of your help Mike! We really appreciate you!”
Jaci Elliott, VE coordinator, Centennial High School, Bakersfield, CA
Be like Mike and join the transformation
Helping make winning business pitches
Burt Wallerstein, Business Model and Brand Developer, Fastrax Marketing; SCORE mentor, has been a member of the VE NYC Advisory Board and has served as a judge in local and national business plan competitions for many years. Mr. Wallerstein most recently served as a mentor for the VE Venture Challenge and helped guide VE student Liza Tarakanova to a win a $10,000 award and 1-year membership at WeWork Labs to help her launch TredBed, a business venture that will help revolutionize the medical industry.
“Burt was a huge help to me this year. I was first introduced to him when I made it to the third round of the VEI Venture Challenge. We had about six conference calls working to perfect my pitch and figure out exactly what my business was and where I was hoping for it to go in the future. His knowledge, expertise, and cold hard truth really does help him live up to his nickname of a ‘nicer Mr. Wonderful’. He was an amazing influence and a great adviser, and I am grateful that I got a chance to meet him!”
Liza Tarakanova, Parkway West High School, Ballwin, MO
Be like Burt and join the transformation
Dedicating years of service to students
Douglas Weber, Senior Vice President, Group Manager of Comerica Bank interviews Roosevelt High School’s VE CEO candidates every year for the last 15 to 16 years. Doug has brought members of Comerica’s management team to help interview candidates for management-level positions. He has brought the Roosevelt High School management team to the Comerica Office to present their Business Plans and Comerica has generously donated finances to Roosevelt High School’s VE program over the years.
“I am so grateful for Doug Weber and my whole advisory team. We could not do this job without them.”
Linda Voth, Roosevelt High School, Fresno, CA
Be like Douglas and join the transformation
The VE experience creates an entrepreneurial mindset and allows business thinking to flourish in the classroom. As a result, many students develop innovative ideas for real businesses during their time in VE. Through the new Venture Challenge, VE provides budding entrepreneurs with opportunities to transform their concepts into viable businesses through mentorship, education, financial support, and real-world business partnerships.
Virtual Enterprises International’s Youth Business Summit 2017 Gala Awards Dinner on April 4, 2017. (Photos: www.JeffreyHolmes.com)
2017 VE Venture Challenge Winner
Presenter: Liza Tarakanova
Parkway West HS, Ballwin, MO
We proudly recognize Liza Tarakanova as the winner of the inaugural VE Venture Challenge. A $10,000 award and 1-year membership at WeWork Labs will help Lisa launch TredBed, a business venture that will help revolutionize the medical industry.
Titan Entrepreneurs of the VE Venture Panel
Pictured Left to Right
Gregg Fisher, Founder & Head of Quantitative Research & Portfolio Strategy, Gerstein Fisher
Miguel McKelvey, Co-Founder, Chief Creative Officer, WeWork
Jeffrey Taylor, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, Digital Risk
Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, Co-Founder, Fitz, Glamsquad, & Gilt
2017 VE Venture Challenge Finalist
Presenters: Peter Sullivan, Nick Leotta, Ben Horton,
Westhampton Beach HS, Westhampton Beach, NY
2017 VE Venture Challenge Semi-Finalists
Team: Kyra Sandman, Luis Hernandez, Luis Chavarria
Jefferson HS, Tampa, FL
Team: Shivam Bhasin, Itushihab Bhuiyan, Daniel Persaud
Francis Lewis HS, Fresh Meadows, NY
Team: Noah Gutierrez, Charley Sweat, Jonas Leon
Eagle Academy for Young Men of Harlem, New York, NY
Enter password: BigAppleVEI2017 to access photos for viewing and download.