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

VE Program Featured as a Noteworthy Practice in New Report from the U.S. Department of Education

A new U.S. Department of Education report from the National Center for Innovation in Career & Technical Education (CTE) outlines the opportunities, challenges, instructional approaches, and noteworthy practices of U.S.-based simulated work-based learning (WBL) programs. The report cites how VE serves as a high-quality simulated WBL program and includes a site interview with Granville County Public Schools, which is currently one of 12 school districts in North Carolina implementing the VE program. A uniquely scalable approach for giving all students across America in-depth workplace and entrepreneurial experience during the school day, VE is implemented in hundreds of other districts around the country. The VE program currently serves 13,000 students a year across 500 middle and high schools throughout the U.S.

Why Granville County Public Schools Adopted VE

“Granville County began using VEI due to teachers’ and administrators’ dissatisfaction with traditional WBL, which they viewed as antiquated and inadequate to prepare students to enter the workforce. Due to the rural setting of Granville County, instructional programs that used simulation were considered advantageous to providing a worldwide connection for students who otherwise would be isolated. The administration in Granville County learned about VEI in 2008 and travelled to Tennessee to observe a VEI simulation in action, implementing VEI shortly thereafter, and the simulation is now fully implemented in all three high schools in the district. Following Granville County’s lead, 11 other school districts across North Carolina are now using VEI.”

(U.S. Department of Education, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, Simulated Work-Based Learning: Instructional Approaches and Promising Practices. Washington, D.C., 2017)

State CTE Director Support a Key in Program Adoption

“Granville County has received strong support from the state CTE director and the Department of Public Instruction throughout the research and implementation process. Administrators from Granville County credit their adoption of VEI to the support provided by the North Carolina State CTE director, who advocated on behalf of their programs at the state level, allowing them to implement the VEI program without excessive obstacles. Granville County has also received good publicity on a state and national level because of the director’s efforts to publicize its success.”

(U.S. Department of Education, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, Simulated Work-Based Learning: Instructional Approaches and Promising Practices. Washington, D.C., 2017)

How VE Connects Students with Local Communities

“The surrounding local communities are also taking on roles in helping VEI students gain real-world experiences. For example, one year a local municipality contacted Granville County with a request that VEI students help create a marketing plan for the town, which was to be presented to the board of commissioners. The students created graphics, slogans, and marketing materials that were ultimately accepted by the board to serve as the marketing plan for that town.”

(U.S. Department of Education, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, Simulated Work-Based Learning: Instructional Approaches and Promising Practices. Washington, D.C., 2017)

Catherine Imperatore provides a helpful summary of the report on ACTE’s CTE Policy Watch Blog, which details how WBL is integral to high-quality CTE, the models and benefits of simulated work-based learning, and keys to growing simulated WBL activities. The full “Simulated Work-Based Learning Instructional Approaches and Noteworthy Practices” report is available on the U.S. Department of Education’s website and on the National Center for Innovation in Career and Technical Education’s website.

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

A post shared by VE International ️️️️️ (@veinternational) on

Virtually Professional | Manhattan, New York, NY | Local News

At first glance, the trade show last week at Pier 92 on the West Side looked just like any of the dozens of other conventions held in Manhattan each year. Thousands of conventioneers hailing from 10 countries navigated row upon row of display booths on a bustling sales floor, exchanging cards and introductions in a whirlwind of networking and deal-making, wide smiles and firm handshakes all around.

But a closer look revealed that this wasn’t a normal business conference — none of the companies in attendance sold any real-world products, and all of the bright-eyed young professionals were teenagers.

Source: Virtually Professional | Manhattan, New York, NY | Local News