If the High School Track of the Business Plan Challenge is an economic indicator, South Florida’s future looks particularly bright.
The Miami Herald’s call for entries in our annual entrepreneurship contest attracted 104 high school plans from the tri-county area — the second highest total to date. The overall quality of the business plans was considerably stronger than in years past, returning judges said. The annual contest is co-sponsored by the nonprofit Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship.
The three-page business plans were packed with research, value propositions, descriptions of the business models, marketing strategy and financial analysis. Many of the entries drew from teen experience, and some had social missions. Dozens of them were part of class projects while a handful were already operating companies. The common denominator was passion.
So many plans rolled in that more judges were called into action. Experts from Entrepreneurs’ Organization South Florida and the Small Business Administration bolstered an already stellar judges’ panel to evaluate the plans. And they were a tough bunch. Snippets from the talk around the table: “Love the vision but is it scalable? ... How will they compete when the competition is free? ... The financials are rather aggressive ... Great job addressing the regulatory hurdles ... This one sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen.”
School spirit shined through. As in past years, students of Miami’s Ransom Everglades submitted more than two dozen plans, the most of any school in the Challenge. But Gulliver Preparatory of Pinecrest was a close second, and Atlantic Technical High School in Coconut Creek was very active as well. We hope this was a strong learning experience for all students who entered.
Today we reveal the 12 finalists. The winners will be announced in a Business Monday special report on May 9.
Access-Able, by Emma Ronzetti and Laura Zaidenberg of Ransom Everglades, is an app that would enable people with disabilities to enjoy restaurants or other venues, as well as create an incentive for venues to be more accessible to all.
Digifeet, by Marco Fernandez of School for Advanced Studies at Miami Dade College, creates custom foot orthotics, or support inserts, to solve foot problems. Working with a physician mentor, he has already created some for his flat feet.
Inti Totes, by Gabriella Cepeda of Palmer Trinity, is a social enterprise that would sell reusable tote bag kits crafted by artisans in Peru including the Inti Tote, one reusable mesh bag for produce and one reusable bulk back. Part of profits support the Peruvian artisan community.
Kar Kit, by Andrew Hurowitz, Cole Becker, Matthew Steiner, Alexis Bogomolni and Jordan Ellman of the University School at NSU, is a convenient bag of car safety and personal essentials every driver should have — but rarely does. It also contains a no texting while driving pledge card.
On The Go, by Carlos Dulcey, Khalil Ali and Felipe Granziera of Gulliver Preparatory, is a device on shopping carts that would allow people to scan and pay for products, making this a mobile “self-checkout system.”
Plans, by David A. Spiegel and Pablo A. De Jongh of Miami Beach Senior High, seeks to help college-age students find groups of other students with similar interests to hang out with; this app would also offer group discounts.
RentAll, by Yash Daftary, Alex Baikovitz and Brandon Dinner of American Heritage, is a geolocalized, peer-to-peer mobile app and website that enables customers to rent items that they typically would not purchase.
Rolling with the Homies, by Alexandra Barbat of Atlantic Technical High School, would create custom-made wheelchairs for people with disabilities. The company believes wheelchairs should reflect the owner’s individuality.
Smart-BagPack, by Alex Pissinou Makki of Ransom Everglades, would create a “smart” backpack that tracks and manages its contents, among other features, so that students don’t lose school supplies or forget to turn in homework.
StudentArtDepot, by Megan Zou of Ransom Everglades, is an online platform and marketplace for student-created works of art, conceived by a student artist.
Try It!, by Natalie Fredman, Alejandro Sannia, Corey Kraftsow and Jacob Sokol of Ransom Everglades, envisions a mobile app that curates instantaneous fun. Instructors deliver on-demand lessons in anything from painting to Latin to lacrosse.
VitaPet, by Paula Ceballos, Lucie Gibeau and Emma Guitar of Gulliver Preparatory, is a proprietary, all-natural liquid vitamin being developed by Paula that you can drop into your dog’s water and it doesn’t change the taste.
Follow Business Plan Challenge developments on MiamiHerald.com/challenge