Georgia Student Wins NFTE Southeast Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Friday, May 17th, 2024

Global entrepreneurship education nonprofit Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) has named 13 student businesses as finalists of its annual Southeast Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. The young entrepreneurs distinguished themselves through innovative business ideas, which they will present at the national finals in New York on Oct. 10 to compete for the National Champion title and cash prizes.  

Competitors pitched their original business concepts to a panel of esteemed judges, including Jean G. Belizaire, Senior Vice President and Relationship Manager at Santander Bank; Gildas Durand, Principal at Ernst & Young LLP (EY US); Pedro Gomes, Associate Director of Entrepreneurship at Northeastern University Miami; Michelle Grillone, Managing Director at Mariner Wealth Advisors; William J. Osceola, Secretary of the Miccosukee Business Council of the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida; and Jessica Vasquez, Assistant Marketing Manager at Dade County Federal Credit Union. They selected a first-place winner to receive $1,500, a second-place winner to receive $1,000, a third-place winner to receive $500, and 10 semifinalists to each receive $300.  

  • 1st Place: Morgan Shepperd from Stephenson High School in Dekalb County, Georgia, with her business idea MathYourWay, which provides personalized tutoring services to students who need additional assistance in advancing their mathematics knowledge. 

  • 2nd Place: Jack Olson from Fort Lauderdale High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his business idea SunSkin, an opaque pimple patch in 40 skin-color shades designed to stick onto blemishes to help heal and conceal while also brightening skin. 

  • 3rd Place: Nishant Shah, Bryce Wagner and Gabriel Lopez from Carrollwood Day School in Tampa, Florida, with their business idea Eco-Vision, an intuitive and adaptive VR software that allows bedridden hospital patients to experience the world outdoors without ever leaving the hospital room. 

Also going to the national challenge are the following semifinalists: 

  • Angela Tran from Alonso High School 

  • Sophia Garcia from Mater Brickell Academy 

  • Jordin Cole & Jocelyn Saucedo Valencia from Cypress Creek High School 

  • Simonne Kumar from Tequesta Trace Middle School 

  • Arianna Tilley from Seabreeze High School 

  • Carter Tran from Palm Beach Gardens Community High School 

  • Soriya Houm from Poinciana High School 

  • William Barone & Chase Montminy from Randall Middle School 

  • Cristian Velasquez from New World School of the Arts 

  • Jamie Ballard & Tereisha Chestnut from Mandarin High School 

“This school year has been truly remarkable as we've seen over 20,000 students dash toward the finish line, bringing forward innovative ideas ranging from fashion and AI to unique integrations of NFTs in clothing, art, and even sneakers," said Chris Brignolle, NFTE Southeast Executive Director. "We extend our deepest gratitude to the volunteers and program partners who foster a supportive ecosystem in our schools and districts, playing a crucial role in unlocking our students' true potential. Having been a part of the NFTE community for 18 years, it's exhilarating to witness our students come full circle by launching significant enterprises or pursuing careers they're passionate about. The NFTE Southeast team celebrates every young entrepreneur's journey toward excellence."  

The NFTE Southeast Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge was presented by EY US, Santander, EverBank, The Batchelor Foundation and The Jim Moran Foundation with signature support from the Grant Cardone Foundation, The Giving Closet, Miami Downtown Development Authority and Dade County Federal Credit Union and associate support from the Citi Foundation, PayPal, and Shopify.    

For media inquiries, please contact Angelika Seaman, 603-504-8554, or Denise Berkhalter, APR, 917-281-4362, at [email protected]