Challenge prompts Island County teens to get down to business

Student entrepreneur Challenge logo

Teens in Island County have a chance to build real businesses and earn cash prizes in the second annual Student Entrepreneur Challenge.

The challenge is a hands-on business learning opportunity organized by the Island County Economic Development Council Foundation and supported by Sno-Isle Libraries and the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation. Teens form teams and then choose a product or service, do research,
write a business plan, market the goods or services and actually run their business for one week in November.

“It’s really impressive how motivated these students are to successfully manage their own businesses,” said Sno-Isle Libraries Lead Librarian for Business Kassy Rodeheaver, who along with others will teach team members how to use free business research tools available through Sno-Isle Libraries.

“Last year during the competition, the student-run businesses sold over $3,000 in product and services in one week. I know some small business owners who would love to have those sales numbers,” Rodeheaver said.

In 2015, teams launched businesses selling items such as candy and candles and providing services including baking, catering, landscaping and taking portraits of high-school seniors who couldn’t afford professional photographs. The 2015 winning team from Oak Harbor made more than $1,000 during the challenge week by selling breakfast items and conducting a raffle at Oak Harbor High School.

Teams are assigned mentors from local businesses to advise them during the challenge. Challenge sponsors include US Bank, Whidbey Coffee, Whidbey Island Bank, Brandman University, The Star Store, The Goose Community Grocer, Puget Sound Energy, Valentine Medical, Spoiled Dog Winery and Greater Freeland Chamber of Commerce.

To enter, Whidbey and Camano island teens can form teams with three to five members in grades 9-12 as well as home-schooled students. Then, complete and submit the online application before the 4 p.m., Oct. 19deadline. Teams are required to attend one of four training meetings scheduled for:

Teams will do market research and write business plans by Nov. 13. From Nov. 14-20, the teams will operate their businesses and then submit their business plans, bibliography and financial reports by 4 p.m., Nov. 21.

Challenge officials and sponsors will announce winners and celebrate all of the young entrepreneurs at an awards event in December.  Cash awards include a grand prize of $250 per winning team member, $100 for the business that officials believe has the greatest chance of continuing outside the challenge and $500 for the team that makes the best use of Sno-Isle Libraries resources in their business.