Just like in the TV show Shark Tank, a group of Loudoun County student entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas at the Young Entrepreneurs Academy! (YEA!) Loudoun’s first ever Investor Panel event March 30.
Middle and high school students took turns giving five minute presentations to a judges panel at Belmont Country Club hoping to making a compelling case for investment – in this case, prize money.
“I thought we were in one of those movies where you and your dad switched bodies,” judge Doug Megill said about student participant Salar Riar.
Students showcased their business plans by presenting mission statements, future plans and financial reports.
The investor panel was comprised of Casey Veach and Chris Charron of the Loudoun County Economic Development Authority, Doug Megill of Mclean Insurance, Preeti Sarnaik of Wells Fargo and Simon Gillet of College Nannies and Tutors.
Judges had a total of $5,000 to split among the most compelling presenters. They heard 12 business presentations and awarded three $500 prizes, two $1,000 prizes and one $1,500 prize.
Riar won the top prize with Pet Ping, a tracking device for pets that syncs with a smart phone application.
There are over 1 million pets in northern Virginia, of which 20 percent are in Loudoun, Riar said. Keeping track of them can be a challenge, and eight million pets are lost each year in the U.S.
Riar believes his approach would help, and is developing a GPS tracking chip for pets that is longer range and $150 cheaper than competitors, he said.
Judges also heard business pitches for clothing and accessory lines, travel apps and security apps.
“It has been a remarkable experience to watch our 29 YEA students work so hard to develop their entrepreneurial talents and start to become real business women and men, “Loudoun County Chamber President Tony Howard said in a prepared statement.
Riar will travel to Rochester, New York on May 4 to present Pet Ping to a panel of judges and compete against other Saunders Scholar winners around the country.
The Loudoun Young Entrepreneurs Academy is an entrepreneurship training program that matches local business owners and leaders with middle and high school students to help them develop and launch their own business or nonprofit organization.
The Academy is sponsored by the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce and the Loudoun County Economic Development Authority, in partnership with Loudoun County Public Schools, the Loudoun County Department of Economic Development, The Mason Enterprise Center Loudoun and Loudoun Youth.