The annual Youth Business Summit, sponsored by the New York Life Foundation, brought together up-and-coming entrepreneurs from around the corner and across the globe to take part in VEI’s three signature student events — the National Business Plan Competition, Global Business Challenge, and International Trade Show. The New York Life Foundation’s generous $1 million gift to VEI not only helped to underwrite the Summit, but also supports VEI’s current expansion efforts. Organized in collaboration with the New York City Department of Education, this year’s Youth Business Summit challenged VEI students and their counterparts in other countries to showcase the skills they have acquired in entrepreneurship, communications, technology, and global business management—all key components of the VEI program.
On Tuesday, April 9, nearly 200 students from Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Germany, Indonesia, Romania, and the United States gathered at the beautiful NYU Kimmel Center for VEI’s Global Business Challenge, sponsored by HSBC. With views of the historic Washington Square Park in New York’s Greenwich Village, students were welcomed by the President of NYU, Dr. John Sexton and Heather Nesle, Vice President of HSBC’s Corporate Sustainability. Jane Ubell, a motivational speaker, kicked off the competition with a stimulating and inspirational talk about the 10 things entrepreneurs must to know. The students were then presented with a challenge from a Starbucks’ Business Study. They had two hours to solve the challenge, working in 24 multinational teams. They presented their findings to a panel of judges. The top six teams faced off in a championship round. Students left with a greater understanding of different cultures and global business, as well as with new friends.
Later that day, 350 VEI supporters from business and education communities gathered at the Tribeca Rooftop for VEI’s inaugural benefit, An Evening to Benefit Virtual Enterprises International. Dennis Walcott presented the Dr. Noel N. Kriftcher Service to Education Award to Deloitte’s CEO, Joe Echevarria. The Deputy CEO, Robert Kueppers accepted the award on his behalf. The evening was emceed by Cat Greenleaf of NBC’s Talk Stoop. Highlights of the evening included inspirational presentations by three current VEI students from California and New York and a VEI alumna.
The next day, VEI’s National Business Plan Competition took place at the McGraw Hill Financial Headquarters. Twenty-one VEI teams, finalists from local and regional competitions from all across America, presented their business plans, which they have perfected over the course of the year. Top honors went to Ripple, Inc. from Centennial High School in Bakersfield, CA, with VE Law & Insurance from Staten Island, NY and Southern Splash from White Knoll High School in Lexington, SC taking second and third places. The first-place winners took home Apple iPad Minis and headphones; the runners up received iPad Minis and the third-place team received Kindle Fire tablet readers.
On the Summit’s final day, Thursday, April 11, nearly 3,000 young entrepreneurs from around the world came together for VEI’s International Trade Show, a forum for students to exhibit and sell the products and services of their virtual companies in a competitive marketplace. Chris Park, the President of New York Life Foundation, welcomed the teams from around the world and cut the ceremonial ribbon to open the Trade Show. The event was a huge success, with most of the companies meeting their sales goals. Equally important were the friendships and the contacts that were made and the ideas that were exchanged. The 150 businesses represented competed for awards in the categories of Best Sales Pitch, Best Booth Design, Best Advanced and Basic Web Design, and Best Catalog. Some teams left with award plaques and trophies, but every team went home a winner.
Mark your calendars! The 2014 Youth Business Summit is scheduled for April 1-3.