Bath bombs that keep bathwater colored after dissolving, new picture frames and dog beds from up-cycled old toys and dog sweaters, and a device to keep extra milk spilling out of a gallon jug into a small cereal bowl are among the top 25 business ideas advancing to Arkansas Capital Corporation’s 13th annual Youth Entrepreneur Showcase (Y.E.S.) for Arkansas Expo Day from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. Jan. 26, at Park Plaza in Little Rock.
Among the top 25 are Jessa Wiles and Heather Buffalo from Carlisle Elementary School, with their jelly hand soap product “Gem Gels.”
Finalists will now prepare to showcase their ideas and sales skills for the Jan. 26 Expo Day event on Level 3 at Park Plaza. Expo Day is open to the public and teams will have their products for sale. Judges will be visiting the teams during the 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. window to decide the first- through fourth-place winners in three categories: Most Innovative Product, Best Marketing Piece, and Best Retail Booth Display. The winners in the Best Business Plan category were determined in the first round, and will also be announced at the awards ceremony.
Cash prizes totaling $1,100 and a school trophy will be awarded to the advisor of the four top teams in each category ($4,400 total). Cash prizes of up to $1,050 are awarded to all students who are members of the top three teams (up to $4,200 total). The four teams in each category also receive souvenir medals.
Y.E.S. finalists were selected from 115 teams from 19 schools in 12 Arkansas counties. Nearly 60 volunteer judges from across the state, representing the agriculture, business, government, banking, health care, and engineering/science sectors will have judged the plans in both the preliminary and final (Expo Day) rounds.
To compete in Y.E.S., middle and junior high school students worked in teams to come up with a business idea for a new or improved product or service that they felt was missing in the marketplace. Using the Lean Canvas business model, they were then challenged to engage in a real-world, hands-on entrepreneurial process to research and write a business plan for the idea that they believed would be attractive to lenders and investors.
Arkansas Capital Corporation manages the Y.E.S. for Arkansas competition through its 501(c)(3) nonprofit Arkansas Economic Acceleration Foundation. The mission of the foundation is to be a catalyst in an environment focused on ideas and initiatives that nurture Arkansas’s future entrepreneurs, especially young Arkansans living in the state’s under-served communities.
Since Y.E.S. was launched in 2006, 7,770 fifth – eighth grade students have been impacted by the competition by being members of teams that have submitted 2,467 business plans. Nearly $80,000 in cash prizes has been awarded to both teachers and students.`
In addition to Y.E.S., AEAF also manages and produces the Arkansas Governor’s Cup Collegiate Business Plan Competition, established in 2001.
Arkansas Capital Corporation is a certified financial development institution with five affiliate and subsidiary companies – Six Bridges Capital Corporation, Arkansas Capital Relending Corporation, AEAF, Heartland Renaissance Fund, and Pine State Regional Center.