2017 Southern Regional Conference and Exhibition Recap

November 20-21, 2017
LeConte Event Center
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Key Stats

  • 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)

Competition Results

Southern Regional Business Plan Competition

Representing Tennessee

  1. Elysium, Bearden High School
  2. AuNaturale Spa and Hair, Inc., Oakland High School
  3. Extreme Adventures, East Hamilton High School
  4. The Animal Kingdom, Inc., Loretto High School
  5. Alpha and Omega, Lawrence County High School
  6. Kutt Loose, Siegel High School

Representing Missouri

  1. Global Goodies, Parkway West High School
  2. Arrow Shipping, Parkway South High School
  3. 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
Doyle Boyd
Cliff Claudell, President, Greater Knoxville Score Chapter
Holly Cross
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
Mary Metz
Doug Minter, Knoxville Chamber Director of Small Business Development
Judi Molla
Linda Ousley, Former VE facilitator
Amy Pangelinan, Market President, Highland Union Bank
Pam Thurman, CTE Core Consultant
Christy Seals
Vanessa Thompson

NY Daily News: “Academy of Finance and Enterprise’s family atmosphere helps students achieve success”

Students Brandon Prenz (left) and Entasa Chowdhury (right) in class at the Academy of Finance and Enterprise. (Debbie Egan-Chin/New York Daily News)

A Unique Class to Prepare Students for the Real-World

“One of the most unique classes the academy offers is the Virtual Enterprise program, which gives students the opportunity to run their own virtual company. Seniors Brandon Prenz and Entasa Chowdhury are in a class that manages Headstart Advisers, a virtual financial firm that deals with stocks and personal financial literacy for their clients. The class prepares students for the real world — something the 17-year-olds say gives them confidence and virtual experience that they turn into jobs.”

Esha Ray and Reuven Blau, “Academy of Finance and Enterprise’s family atmosphere helps students achieve success,” New York Daily News

Read the full article here.

VE Teachers Collaborate, Learn, and Network at 2017 National Teachers Conference


During the week of July 10th, 2017, over 130 teachers from across the U.S. gathered together at LIU Post to share advice, discuss the future of work, and learn the essentials of facilitating a VE class at the third annual National Teachers Conference.

Career Readiness Framework

Nick Chapman, President and National Program Director, covered how VE will be implementing the Career Readiness Framework, a comprehensive way to capture key competencies and skills employers seek and students need for success.

Review the Career Readiness Framework here.

Conference Sessions

This year’s National Teachers Conference had a range of helpful professional development sessions and collaborative roundtables. We would like to thank all the coordinators who volunteered to share their wisdom, experience, and knowledge as facilitators for these sessions.

Session TitleFacilitator(s)
Methods of FacilitationKendra Lee, VE Illinois State Coordinator and Wendy Schmitt, VE Great Lakes Regional Director
VE-JV Career Academy: 7th Grade Activity Map & Lessons/Introduction to CanvasMaria Frangella, VE-JV facilitator, MS 137 (NYC), Joanna Gillen, VE-JV facilitator, and William McKinley JHS (NYC)
Business Plan Basics For New VE TeachersAmy Demchak, VE facilitator, Westhampton HS (NY)
A Look at VE Competitions: Rubrics, Results, and the FutureNick Chapman, President and National Program Director, VEI
VE-JV Career Academy: 8th Grade Activity Map & LessonsFrank Bennici, VE-JV facilitator, MS 137 America’s School of Heroes (NYC), Joanna Gillen, VE-JV 7th & 8th Grade facilitator, and William McKinley JHS (NYC)
Making the Sale!Julie Levi, President, Progressive Promotions, Inc.
Basics of Accounting in VETeri Jones, Southern California Regional Director, VEI
Creating a Competitive Company WebsiteJenny Benack, VE facilitator, Morris Knolls HS (NJ)
Hashtags & Retweets & Endorsements...Oh My!Tyler Fugazzie, Marketing & Communications Manager, VEI and Abril PeĂąa, VE Fellow, VEI
Human Resources SolutionsJoni Fulton, VE facilitator, Murrieta Valley HS (CA)
Encouraging Student-Led PD SessionsBrenda Bechtol, VE facilitator, Oscar A. Carlson HS (MI), and Teresa Millican, VE facilitator, Airport HS (MI)
Incorporating Personal Finance into Your VE FirmAlan Gersten, VE facilitator, Century HS (CA)
Engaging Your Local CommunityJaci Elliot, VE facilitator, Centennial HS (CA)
Featured PresentationDane Stangler, Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurship, LIU with Rob Valli, Dean, College of Management, LIU Post
Contagion: Fighting Back Against SenioritisIsai Serrano, VE facilitator, Manhattan Business Academy (NYC)
Preparing for a Trade ShowMike Silberman, VE facilitator, West Hempstead HS (NY)
Afternoon Roundtables: The Commons, Accounting & Finance, Administration, Sales & Marketing, Human Resources, VE-JV, Generation VE: Collab-A-ThonBrenda Bechtol, MI; Jenny Benack, NJ; Robin Buckles, CA; Rich Butzke, NY (Long Island); Amy Demchak, NY (Long Island); Jaci Elliott, CA; Joni Fulton, CA; Alan Gersten, CA; Darrell Iki, CA; Kathy McCoy, TN; Teresa Millican, MI; Chris Power, NY (NYC); Isai Serrano, NY (NYC); Mike Silberman, NY (Long Island); Kaye Sommer, MI



Insight from the VE Judges’ Panel

What are judges most focused on during Business Plan Competitions? What makes a business plan presentation team stand out? What’s the most common mistake presenters make?

We gathered four industry professionals who have served as VE competition judges to answer these questions and more. Watch Paul Stanley, Manager of Community Investments at HSBC, Ritu Banga, Co-Founder & Managing Director at Zoomdojo, Jack Powers, Director at International Informatics Institute, and Alexandra Van Arkel, Senior Manager at NBCUniversal shared their perspectives on extraordinary competition performance, professionalism, and what students need to succeed.

Enjoyed the video? Watch more videos from the National Teachers Conference on our Facebook page!

Thank you to all the teachers that joined us at the third annual National Teachers Conference. We hope everyone has a great school year, whether this is your first or your fifteenth. Special thank you to WeWork for showing the future of work, Cisco for inspiration, and HSBC for supporting VE ambition. Thank you to Dr. Cline and the entire LIU Post team for helping make this conference happen.

Virtual Enterprise students visit New York City | www.personcountylife.com | Courier Times

High School Virtual Enterprise students attended the Youth Business Summit in New York City on April 3 – 6, hosted by the National Virtual Enterprise office,Virtual Enterprise teacher Tara Hubbard said the summit “allowed 4,300 students from over 40 countries to come together to create and sell a virtual product at an international trade fair.

Source: Virtual Enterprise students visit New York City | www.personcountylife.com | Courier Times

Virtual business; real experience | Bakersfield Life | bakersfield.com

The CrossFit-affiliated workout facility and healthy meal provider’s sales topped off at $18,000 – well short of its monthly goal. After redirecting its focus on marketing, the Bakersfield-based business bounced back and made $80,000 in March.

Source: Virtual business; real experience | Bakersfield Life | bakersfield.com

Hewlett High’s virtual enterprise team finishes fifth | Herald Community Newspapers | liherald.com

ROC Security, a virtual enterprise firm run by Hewlett High School seniors that “sells” residential, online, commercial and personal security products took fifth place at the 2017 Virtual Enterprise International Youth Business Summit in Manhattan from April 3-5.

Source: Hewlett High’s virtual enterprise team finishes fifth | Herald Community Newspapers | liherald.com

Greer HS Virtual Enterprise Class gets top finish in the country, Hannon and Henderson win Gold in Salesmanship | GreerToday.com

The Greer High School Virtual Enterprise Class finished in a top group of 28 in the Business Plan Competition at the 2017 Virtual Enterprise Youth Business Summit in New York City.Greer was among 400 schools from 16 states to compete at the competition.

Source: Greer HS Virtual Enterprise Class gets top finish in the country, Hannon and Henderson win Gold in Salesmanship | GreerToday.com

Celebrating 2017 National Volunteer Week


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

Felicia Demos

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

Doug Haaland

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

Naomi Hogarty

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

Amy Owens

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

Dean Scheske

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

Tom Smith

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

Mike Stepanovich

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

Burt Wallerstein

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

Douglas Weber

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

2017 Bay Area Entrepreneurship Conference and Trade Show Recap

On March 26-27, 2017, a total of 60 schools came together to participate in the Bay Area Entrepreneurship Conference and Trade Show in Oakland, California.

Key Stats

  • 1200 total attendees
  • 60 schools
  • 79 firms
  • 1112 students
  • 98 volunteers
  • 8 Trade Show competitions

Special thanks to: Napa Valley College, California Community Colleges Doing What Matters for Small Business – North Bay, East Bay, Mid-Peninsula and Silicon Valley Regions.


Results for top teams in the Company Branding, Elevator Pitch, Financial Statements Challenge, Human Resources Scenarios, Marketing Plan, Sustainable Revenue Business Plan, Video Commercial, and WOW Factor can be found at the Competitions Results page.

View Competition Results

2017 Youth Business Summit Recap

Virtual Enterprises International's Youth Business Summit 2017. The 2017 National Business Plan Competition on April 3, 2017. (Photo: www.JeffreyHolmes.com)

2017 National Business Plan Competition on April 3, 2017. (Photo: www.JeffreyHolmes.com)

Thank you to the 4,300 attendees who joined us for an amazing three days.

Competition Results

Find competition results for National Business Plan Competition, National Human Resources Competition, National Marketing Competition, Global Business Challenge, Booth Competition, Salesmanship Competition, Sales Materials Competition, and Website Competition.

View 2017 YBS Competition Results

Photos and Videos

Explore photos and what attendees shared on social media with the Media Center. You will need to enter password: BigAppleVEI2017 to access photos.

Visit the YBS Media Center

Thank You Exhibitors and Sponsors


We would like to extend a very special thank you to all of our exhibitors and sponsors of the 2017 Youth Business Summit.

2017 Exhibitors and Sponsors



2017 National Business Plan Competition Results 1st Bumble (CA) @bumblevei 2nd Flip Chip (NY) @flipchip.ve 3rd Pinya Linya (CA) Thank you @hsbc

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