Central Chamber’s Young Entrepreneur Winners Chosen

The Central Palm Beach County Community Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce, hosted its first Young Entrepreneurs Academy Investor Panel on Wednesday, March 30. The event took place at the Keiser University Flagship Campus.

Students were awarded startup money to launch their businesses after pitching their concepts to a panel of local investors, who awarded a total of $10,000 based on the potential for success.

Twelve schools were represented from all across Palm Beach County, including American Heritage, Crossroads Academy, the Dreyfoos School of the Arts, Emerald Cove Middle School, the King’s Academy, Pahokee Middle/Senior High School, Palm Beach Central High School, South Tech Academy, Suncoast High School, the Wellington Collegiate Academy, Wellington Landings Middle School and Western Academy Charter School. The homeschool community was also represented by several students.

Ryan Shnider, 14, of Palm Beach Central, and Ethan Shapiro, 15, of American Heritage, were selected as the YEA Saunders Scholars semifinalists and will advance to the regional competition in Rochester, N.Y., to compete against students from around the country for the opportunity to win college scholarships and business startup prize packages. They are the co-presidents of Snap’d In, a company that produces customizable cellphone cases. The business was awarded $1,636.

“This was truly a collaborative community effort made possible by all of our sponsors, mentors and everyone who came out to support these budding entrepreneurs,” said Thomas Bean, director of public and community engagement for Florida Power & Light and chairman of the Central Palm Beach County Chamber. “The students’ creativity and dedication was inspiring. FPL and the chamber are proud to help empower the next generation of business leaders.”

Investors included FPL’s Bean; Keith Oswald of the Palm Beach County School District; A.J. Titus, operations manager for United Franchise Group; Rachelle Crain, director of marketing for the Mall at Wellington Green; Pam Tahan of Wellington Regional Medical Center; Ashley Tripp, owner of Tripp Electric Motors; and Tom Duncan, president of the Keiser University Flagship Campus.

Applications for the 2016-17 YEA program are now available. To learn more, visit www.cpbchamberyea.org.

ABOVE: (Front row, L-R) Ashley Tripp, Briana Maraj, Ryan Shnider, Thanahjha Jefferson, Jamesha Whitfield, Jasmine Miller, Adam Ebersole, Gabriella Possobon, Monse Zaragoza, Martina Sanchez and Michael Sawney; (middle row) Pam Tahan, Ethan Shapiro, Denise Hopkins, Antjuan Williams, Eric Mackey, Patricio Pinedo, Gabby Morast, Alyssa Scheible, Evan Ebersole, Rachelle Crain, Jerry Steinberg and Sandi Quigley; (back row) Rudi Bestor, Tom Duncan, Ethan Shapiro, Thomas Bean, Rio Infinity, Macartney Ewing, Zeke Adams, Halsey Smith, Cheryl Anders, August Russ, A.J. Titus, Robre’ana Hutchinson, Keith Oswald, Tim Thompson, Jeff Kleino, John ‘J-Mart’ Martin and Mary Lou Bedford.