2014 Inspirational Young Entrepreneurs – Young Entrepreneur of the Year Winners

August 26, 2014 at 8:03 pm

imageThe National Federation of Independent Business Young Entrepreneur Foundation (YEF) awarded budding business owners its highest honors, naming Lei Lei Secor the 2014 Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and Zach Haney, the inaugural Dan Danner Leadership Award winner. As the winner of YEF’s top two prizes, Ms. Secor, who resides in Hagaman, NY, will receive a $15,000 educational scholarship to attend the University of Virginia, and Mr. Haney, who resides in Topeka, KS will receive a $15,000 educational scholarship to attend Washburn University.

Ms. Secor owns and operates Designed By Lei where she specializes in custom designing and crafting handmade jewelry. Since 2012, LeiLei has been successfully selling and marketing her jewelry online while also balancing her academic responsibilities.

Mr. Haney owns and operates an event rental company, Kansas Carnival Supply, LLC that supplies clients’ with interactive party and equipment rentals for a wide variety of events. He started his business in 2012 with a free carnival for a local homeless shelter and since then it has been one of the fastest growing event rental company in Northeast Kansas.

Ms. Secor and Mr. Haney were selected from an impressive group of finalists from around the country, each of whom received a $5,000 scholarship as recognition of their business endeavors. The three finalists and their businesses are:

  • Anna Erkalova of Chalfont, PA. Crane Books, LLC publishes and sells public domain literature. Ms. Erkalova is attending
  • Cody Gradert of Ireton, IA. Gradert and Sons is a multigenerational business that grows corn and soybean as well as finish cattle. Mr. Gradert is attending
  • Vivek Tedla of Newton, CT. VRT Studios is a photography studio that creates and delivers high quality and innovated products specializing in wedding photography, senior pictures, and multi-cultural photography. Mr. Tedla is attending

Interviews of the five students can be found here.

NFIB’s Young Entrepreneur Foundation established its scholarship program to raise awareness among the nation’s youth about the critical role of private enterprise and entrepreneurship in growing America’s economy. The foundation selected winners from a nationwide applicant pool of more than 600 applicants. Award recipients will use the scholarships to attend the university, college, community college or career institute of their choice.

To qualify for an NFIB Young Entrepreneur Award, students must seniors in high school who own and/or operate their own small business. Students can find more information about the Young Entrepreneur Awards and apply here.

Video profiles of the five finalists and their businesses are available here.

Discussion: Watch the six videos included above (interviews can be found in each finalist’s description, and profiles of all five finalists can be found at the end of the article), of the Young Entrepreneur Award winners and follow up with the following discussion questions:

  • What characteristics do they possess that have made them and their business successful?
  • What kind of business would YOU want to start? Check out Entrepreneur in the Classroom Exercise 2-2 to have the students go through a mind-mapping exercise that helps them plan a business.
  • How did each of the students describe their businesses? Were their elevator pitches persuasive enough to have you use their business? What made their business descriptions good? How could they have improved their elevator pitch? Check out the last step of Entrepreneur in the Classroom Exercise 2-2, to show students how to develop an elevator pitch.
  • Check out Entrepreneur in the Classroom Exercise 2-5 to have your students do a SWOT analysis of one of the NFIB Young Entrepreneur Award winners’ businesses.

Entrepreneur In The Classroom: The NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation Entrepreneur-in-the-Classroom (EITC) supplemental curriculum exposes students to entrepreneurship and the necessary steps to take an idea and turn it into a business. The FREE curriculum can be integrated into classes teaching a variety of subjects including music, art, fashion, business and many more. You must be registered to view the full Entrepreneur-in-the-Classroom curriculum.

More Information: The NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization promoting the importance of small business and free enterprise to the nation’s youth. More information is available at www.NFIB.com/YEF. The Foundation is associated with the National Federation of Independent Business; NFIB is the nation’s leading small business association, with offices in Washington, D.C. and all 50 state capitals.

Related links: Follow NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation on Twitter Like NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation on Facebook Follow EITC curriculum author Kathy Korman Frey on Twitter


Entry filed under: Entrepreneur, NFIB, Resources, Young Entrepreneur. Tags: , , , , , .

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