Solarity moves onto Nationals for the second year in a row
On January 17th, twenty-two VEI Firms attended the 2014 New York Citywide Business Plan Competition after separating themselves with stellar presentations from the pack of forty-eight firms in the Local Business Plan Competitions. In the morning of the Citywide Competition, all twenty-two teams presented twice at the United Federation of Teachers’ headquarters. The morning round atmosphere was abuzz with anticipation. Students and coordinators made some last minute preparations, psyched themselves up, and awaited their shots to showcase months of hard work and get closer to representing NYC at the National Business Plan Competition during the 2014 Youth Business Summit in April.
After seven semi-finalists were announced, the crowd reacted with excitement and disappointment, and the remaining teams headed to one of Deloitte’s offices for the championship round. The championship round was a nail-biter, but eventually the top three teams were chosen to move onto Nationals.
1st – Solarity (New Dorp HS)
2nd – Majestique (W.C. Bryant HS)
3rd – T-Squared (Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis HS)
Check out photos from the afternoon round to see the diverse range of industries and ideas on display.
Photos from Afternoon Round
- Footprint (W.C. Bryant HS)
- Imagination (HS for Arts, Imagination & Inquiry)
- Majestique (W.C. Bryant HS)
- Solarity (New Dorp HS)
- T-Squared (Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis HS)
- VE Law & Insurance (New Dorp HS)
- VReal Publications (Francis Lewis HS)
Photos from the Morning Round
Below is an interview with NYC Program Coordinator Nick Chapman regarding his view of the competition. VEI extends our deep appreciation to Deloitte, UFT, the judges, volunteers, students, coordinators, mentors, and staff for their commitment to helping shape the next generation of business leaders and the names of these exemplary people can be found at the bottom of this post.
Q&A with NYC Program Coordinator Nick Chapman
What were this year’s pleasant surprises?
It’s always wonderful to see the variety of firms presenting at the Citywide Competition. It was great to see the extraordinary level of competition.
In addition to Solarity’s accomplishment, I’m especially proud of T-Squared (Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis) and Majestique (WC Bryant), who will both be first time participants in the National Business Plan Competition.
How did this year’s competition compare to last year’s? How did it compare to the local competitions?
This was the strongest field of teams that I’ve seen in the Citywide. Many of the teams were in striking distance of the finals and I think it tells us a lot about the dedication and preparation of our students and teachers.
What advice do you have to the teams moving to Nationals?
Get as many people as possible to read your plan, watch your presentation, and provide feedback.
What advice do you have to teams who couldn’t make it?
Run your business! Make sales, get the word out, implement your plan! Start preparing for the upcoming International Trade Show.
What would you say to students who fell shy of making it but are seniors and won’t get another shot at this in a VE context? In other words, what do you hope they can take from the experience into college and beyond?
By making it to the Citywide, each of these 22 firms have already separated themselves from their competition. The experiences that these students gained in writing, preparing, and presenting their work will only serve to further set them apart from their peers after high school.
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Fort Hamilton HS students and teachers, with UFT Vice President Sterling Roberson (far right), show off their first-place trophy.
The 69th Regiment Armory in Manhattan is packed with students showing off their virtual businesses on the final day of the event.
The third-place New Dorp HS team, with teacher Assistant Principal Christine Drucker.
It’s a rare start-up business that’s self-financing. Short of having a trust fund, would-be entrepreneurs need to pitch detailed business plans to funders and investors exhaustively, coherently and articulately. Learning to do that is part of schooling, too, as the annual Virtual Enterprise International’s Youth Business Summit competition attested.
In round one, held at union headquarters on March 27, 19 student teams from high schools nationwide including three New York City teams — the finalists from earlier competitions involving teams from some 550 U.S. high schools — vied in making oral and written presentations of virtual but workable business plans.
A championship round, where the students exhibited their new virtual businesses as judges made the rounds, was held two days later at the Armory on the Upper East Side.
Top honors in the championship round went to Brooklyn’s Fort Hamilton HS, representing virtual Bon Voyage Travel. Previous first-place winner Staten Island’s New Dorp HS, which advocated for virtual solar-energy engineering firm Solarity, came in third.
The Fort Hamilton HS team was involved in the contest as members of the school’s Virtual Enterprise class, part of the school’s business sequence, said teacher and team coach Mary Grace Alfredo. The team sculpted a tourism business model appropriate to the economic and pricing climate of 2012, focusing on travel packages with an ethnic heritage and culture theme.
Alfredo described her role as “the team facilitator, more like the chairman of the board to the students’ CEO and corporate officers.”
New Dorp HS, whose team has qualified for the championship round in seven of the last 15 national competitions, was coached by Virtual Enterprise teacher Paul Presti. For Presti, the competition and the preparation for it aren’t limited to acquiring specialized business skills. “In this team effort, you learn public speaking, you learn thinking and presenting under pressure, you learn how to write and research.” He described the program as “experience to guide them for life.”
Another team that put up a strong effort was from Brooklyn’s Edward R. Murrow HS, which marketed Brandmark, a virtual Internet advertising startup. Team members said the company would engage in “net branding” by establishing “visibility, trust and brand loyalty for customers’ products and services.” Its business plan included an assessment of its strengths in contrast to existing competitors, whose operations and costs had been vetted by the students.
Lisa Costantino, the Murrow HS team’s coach who has taught for 19 years, said the work that her students put into events like this, added to Murrow’s strong business program, “is why I love my job.”
Among the teams from farther afield was one from Southern California’s Costa Mesa HS. The group, this year’s California state champions and the competition’s second-place winners, were dressed alike in gray with red ties or scarves “to emphasize we’re a team with a single perspective,” said senior Caitlyn Brock.
The California group proposed a wildlife center that would complement Orange County’s new and sprawling Great Park, which when completed will dwarf Central Park. They projected the center’s attracting more visitors to the park by acting as an animal rescue shelter and educational complex serving six nearby school districts. Operating funds would be generated through group tours and corporate event exhibitions, the team’s business plan stated.
Despite the presence of the three New York City schools, UFT Vice President for CTE High Schools Sterling Roberson insisted he was there to cheer all the teams on.
“So put your game face on. You’re looking great,” he told students in his opening remarks at round one.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew told attendees that he had left off handling media inquiries to bring them greetings.
“Why doesn’t the press come down here and see the future of this city and this country and the great work you’re doing?” he said. “This is what education is all about.”