Enjoy stress relief with some blob. Yes, that is right, a nice wad of blob can ease tension, or break some boredom. Or, perhaps a low-carb snack is wanted? A fancy way to lace shoes? Accessorize, pack for school, or enjoy some luxurious soap. All were on display at Park Plaza Mall last week as nine Carlisle students explored the heart of entrepreneurship — seeing a need and finding ways to market a solution.
And, Carlisle itself shone with the students taking six of the finalist positions in the 2013 Youth Entrepreneur Showcase (Y.E.S.) for Arkansas Expo Day held Jan. 17. "That’s six out of 26 spots, against like 200 other entries," sponsor Jennifer Park said as she pointed out the Carlisle booths along the mall aisleways. Signs proclaiming each business also noted them being from Carlisle Elementary School. "This is fantastic," Park said.
In the judging, Josie Fortner, with Mini’s Delicious Donuts, won second place in business plans; Drew Sanders, with Drew’s Awesome Loofahs, won fourth place in Innovation category.
"I’m just very proud of all of them," Park said.
The Carlisle entries were:
Mini’s Delicious Donuts - Jose Fortner, Audrey Fortner and Savannah Schaer;
Drew’s Awesome Loofahs - Drew Sanders;
Pencil Pockets - Rachel Means;
B.L.O.B - Konner Elmore;
Infinity Scarves - Izzy Blair and Jana Tarter;
Lovable Learning Laces - Vikki Lynch
This is the third year Carlisle students have competed in Y.E.S., Park said. In 2011, no Carlisle students placed in the preliminary competitions. Undaunted, sponsor Jennifer Park organized another competition in 2012 and one student won a spot in the final competion at Little Rock.
"We went over what we did last year, and set it up a little different this year," Park said Friday. Applying those lessons paid off for Carlisle, and the nine budding entrepreneurs earned places in the final competition with six businesses in the Y.E.S. Expo Day.
"I think it is amazing," principal Karen Norton said while visiting the Carlisle booths at Little Rock. "There was nothing like this when I was in school. I don’t know if I would have been able to do what they are doing."
"Look at what [students] are learning," Norton said. "It’s not just business plans, but working with people, talking and networking. They are making some good connections here by meeting students from other schools."
Y.E.S. For Arkansas director Marie Bruno said she was impressed by the support for the Carlisle entries. "I think they brought half the school," she remarked.
As to the number of Carlisle finalists, Bruno said that is attributed to good preparation. "Entries are judged on how well they meet the requirements, not what school they are from. If they are here, they worked to be here," she said.
"There were 258 intents to enter, and 220 business plans were sent in; there were 672 students from 20 schools that took part," Bruno said. Usually, there are only 25 finalists, but this year there was a tie leading to the 26 finalists, she said.
Bruno said she expects Y.E.S. to expand in the future. "It fits right into Common Core, so it could be part of a school curriculum."
For the students, the lesson is not wholly in how many sales were made Friday, though customer acceptance is part of the "picture," Bruno said. What is promoted is how to set up a business - the research, preparation, planning and execution needed to be successful in business, she said.
"They are on a small scale here but they are still operating businesses. Everything they do here applies to any business and is something they can use later," Bruno said.
According to information from Y.E.S. for Arkansas, it is a statewide business plan competition for students in grades 5-8. It showcases students’ creativity, intuition and innovation and encourages them to act upon ideas and talents to create future businesses. Y.E.S. is managed by the Arkansas Economic Acceleration Foundation (AEAF), an affiliate of Arkansas Capital Corporation Group. The competition was begun in 2005 and since then more than 1,750 students in grades 5-8 from about 40 schools have participated and more than $21,500 has been awarded.