I was so impressed by the students at the DECA Innovation competition in San Diego I wanted to continue the article with an interview of a finalist team. If you missed the first article, in late November I was honored to be tapped as a judge for a final competition of teens who convened at a local hotel – were given about three days to develop a business idea and then to compete for final prize.
I admit that although I felt good about the duty I would be performing, I was not as enthusiastic as I would have been, let’s say to sit as a panelist for local businesses or for discussions on interpersonal neurobiology – a new found love of mine. However, I agreed to be a panelist and I wanted to live up to my promise. I entered the hotel really expecting very little. What I found was golden. These students were enthusiastic, eager and engaged. While the below team did not win the final prize, they displayed a great attitude and did make it to the finals.
Did you know each other before the competition? “Yes, we’ve been friends for about five years, and this is about our third year in DECA together. We all are pretty close friends.” Amber Valenzuela, 17
How did you agree on one concept? “We first decided on creating a website that had multiple ways of helping students with academics/school work. After a suggestion from a speaker at the conference, we narrowed down our concept to a website solely based on providing free online calculators.” Mariah Sonstelie, 16
What was the biggest challenge? “Our biggest challenge was determining our finances for the company altogether. It was difficult to predict our projected income and our start up cost. As well, as brainstorming the right amount of a loan we needed.” Hailey Hansen, 16
What value did this competition or the conference in general bring to you? “The competition forced us to make quick decisions and find a way we could successfully implement the idea. Overall, the conference proved to be a great challenge and truly tested our abilities in the entrepreneurship process. We comprehended on all the hard work and passion it takes to be an entrepreneur. Although, showing that even we as youth could pursue a business at a young change, was probably the biggest value to the team.” Alyssa Wall, 16
Any advice for others wanting to be proactive about career, school or other ideas? “To be proactive, you must come up with an idea that solves a problem, and utilize it. Do your research. All you have to do is just make sure your product isn’t already out there in the market. And if it is, you need to show how your product is better.Before you get there though, take school seriously and understand how much a higher education is important. As for your career, do what you love. And find an occupation that makes you happy.” Amber Valenzuela, 17
To learn more about DECA, you can visit their site by clicking this link.