Saunders College of Business at Rochester Institute of Technology is the host and a sponsor for the 10th annual Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) Saunders College Competition on Friday, May 4. The event is expected to draw more than 300 participating students, family members, judges and spectators from across the country as young students compete in a Shark Tank-style competition for the opportunity to advance to the finals.
Young Entrepreneurs Academy offers yearlong educational classes for entrepreneurial-engaged high school students (ages 11 to 18)—and semifinalists representing 62 small businesses from around the country and overseas will be at RIT to present their business plans to a panel of judges.
Philanthropist and entrepreneur E. Philip Saunders gifted the Young Entrepreneurs Academy with a transformational gift more than 10 years ago to provide young CEOs the chance to earn tens of thousands of dollars in college scholarships. On May 4, one student will walk away with the grand prize of $50,000 in college scholarships and an all-expenses paid trip to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Summit in Washington, D.C.
Most events will take place in RIT’s Ingle Auditorium, Student Alumni Union, with the final round “Rapid Fire Pitch” held at 4 p.m. in Clark Gymnasium.
Last year’s winner from Staten Island, N.Y., Gabby Garcia—CEO of Stench Snipers, a sports equipment deodorizing company—recently announced her intent to enroll at RIT this fall.
“Students who participate in YEA! are given the tools to turn their big ideas into real businesses,” said Gayle Jagel, founder and CEO of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy. “We not only tell them how to turn their passions into opportunity, we match them with local business leaders who mentor them along the way. Before they graduate, they have a legally registered business and they pitch their products or services to a panel of investors.”
Saunders, who is known for transforming the truck stop industry to TravelCenters of America Inc., has diversified interests in energy, auto and truck rental, recreation and tourism, packaged foods, property management, banking and business ventures. His generous gift to RIT boosted the visionary plans of the business school that now bears his name.