Photos courtesy of FMWF Chamber of Commerce
Feature photo of Logan Heger, YEA! member
Year after year, I am impressed by the talent that the Red River Valley produces, and right now, I am more excited than ever. Last month, the Chamber hosted the second annual Investor Panel Shark Tank event, which is a showcase of business ideas from our Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) program students. Here, 17 middle- and high-school students presented their ideas to a panel of local investors and competed for funding.
Bridget McManamon, junior at Moorhead Senior High School
In the end, Bridget McManamon, a junior at Moorhead Senior High School, took first place in the competition for her business, Herstory, and will advance to the national semifinals in New York. Bridget also received $1,000 to help her launch her business this summer.
“YEA! is an incredible opportunity for talented and motivated young entrepreneurs to learn more about business.”
– Craig Whitney, president and CEO of the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce
Bridget is a fine example of a talented, passionate and inspired young entrepreneur. She saw a need and used her expertise and resources to fill it. In fact, that’s what all of our 17 students have done. The range of their ideas touch many industries, from biodiesel to eco-friendly, local garden supplies to cakes and protein shakes—creating products that are giving back around the world.
It’s an honor to witness the incredible innovation these young people possess and to watch their ideas come to fruition. But none of it would happen without the support of our local community. We’ve been lucky to secure a group of area professionals who volunteered their time and talents to share with our students.
The YEA! program would be not successful without these guest speakers, tour hosts, mentors, and, of course, sponsors. Cornerstone Bank has been especially invaluable as the program’s presenting sponsor. We’ve also seen incredible support from our local schools and business community, which is another example of what makes Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo shine as a thriving community.
To me, The YEA! program is especially important to the process of cultivating an informed and inspired future workforce. The students in the program will soon begin their college careers, and, subsequently, enter the workforce. It is our hope that many of our area students remain in the region. We have a vibrant and supportive business community, and YEA! helps expose those resources to the students.
It’s also my hope that, in time, many of the business ideas cultivated through the YEA! program come to fruition. We’ve already seen two successes from our very first year. Mukai Selekwa has taken on two business partners and is busy launching his social media-management platform, Webblen, and Sydney Ulrich has sold numerous headbands to help fund breast cancer research.
I have no doubt that Bridget and several of this year’s class will have the same success. In fact, Bridget is already off to a promising start. Last fall, she received a $3,000 grant for her business, and we know that she will continue to wow people as she continues.
Herstory is a membership-based organization that serves to raise awareness and distribute menstrual-hygiene products to local students who otherwise do not have access to them. Funds from her grant have helped make a donation of hygiene packages to women in need in Africa.
Likely as you’re reading this, Bridget is in New York once again pitching Herstory to a new audience. She is among more than 100 students nationally competing in the Saunders Scholars semifinal competition for the opportunity to advance to the national final to win college scholarships— ranging from $25,000 to $50,000—an all-expenses-paid trip to America’s Small Business Summit hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., and business-startup prizes.
YEA! is an incredible opportunity for talented and motivated young entrepreneurs to learn more about business. Our local program is actually the first and only in North Dakota and one of only a few in the upper Midwest.
If you know a middle or high school student who exudes the entrepreneurial spirit, please encourage them to apply for the 2017-18 class on our website at FMWFChamber.com/YEA.
We’re also looking for more volunteers to help throughout the year. If you’re interested or want to learn more, please contact our YEA! program coordinator Katie at 218-359-0511 or [email protected] FMWFChamber.com.
Other Students in This Year’s YEA! Program & Their Businesses
- Taranvir Johal (Oak Grove High School) – Protein+
- Chase Monson (Fargo South High School) – Greasel
- Habiba Heshmat (Davies High School) – Heshmarks
- Josh Gronneberg (Davies High School) – EvoManage
- Evan Ohren (Cheney Middle School) – E’s Clothing
- Connor Dahlvang (Davies High School) – Quick Shopper
- Anushka Sikdar (Cheney Middle School) – Light the Way Corp.
- Chase Ohren (Cheney Middle School) – Chillingtons
- Fardosa Hassan (West Fargo High School) – Reves Doux Patisserie
- Derek Phelps (Davies High School) – The Greenhouse
- Max Lavitschke (West Fargo High School) – TekLite Software
- Assraa Al-abase (Cheney Middle School) – Viz
- Joanna Lin (Davies High School) – Ecopotz
- Logan Heger (Cheney Middle School) – Dry Kicks
- Cooper Chwialkowski & Tanner Paler (West Fargo High School) – MN Pro
FMWF Chamber of Commerce