Hydia Black ’13 and Zydia Rahman ’13 received a standing ovation after “pitching” their business, HYZY Creations, to an audience of about 200 entrepreneurs at the 2013 Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership (IFEL) Next Level Conference held at the New Jersey Institute for Technology in Newark in May. The girls developed their business concept in the M.A.D.E.@Link enrichment class with volunteers Dr. Michele Scott and Mr. Alvin Perry, and at year-end, HYZY Creations was selected as the winning business. The girls were each presented with Kindle Fire and a gift certificate. Dr. Scott will be working with the young ladies over the summer, introducing them to entrepreneurs, teaching them more about owning a small business and helping them to bring their concept to the marketplace.
Along with Hydia and Zydia, twenty other Linkers who were in the enrichment class were invited to attend the IFEL conference. While the event has traditionally been a networking and educational venue for adult entrepreneurs, this year the organization introduced a youth track with a workshop designed to help young people interested in owning their own business. During the first half of the three hour session, Link students had the opportunity to hear from a a panel of successful entrepreneurs, a panel including Ms. Dawn Fitch (founder and owner of Pooka Pure and Simple), Michael Skolnick (political director to Russell Simmons and editor-in-chief of globalgrind.com), Michael Blake (national deputy director of Operation Vote, who also managed the outreach programs for Pres Obama’s last campaign), and Anthony Frasier (founder of The Phat Startup, lean start-up methods using hip hop, co-founder of Playd, and an award winning game site TheKoalition.) Each panelist share the story of his or her journey to entrepreneurship, the ups and downs of their businesses and ultimately finding success in their endeavors.
The second half of the workshop featured the Link students pitching the businesses they created in the enrichment class to the panelists. The panelists responded to each student or student team with valuable feedback – words of professional advice and encouragement in a straightforward and serious manner. What an incredible experience for our students!
Link thanks the volunteer instructors who provided the M.A.D.E.@Link program for both our 7th and 8th grade students this year including Dr. Scott, Mr. Perry along with Ms. Athena Barat, Mr. Maurice Baker and Mr. Chike Uzoka. Some of the other business concepts developed during the year were companies to provide student advocacy services, canning and selling pickles, making bows to accessorize outfits, and many more.
Photos from the IFEL Conference