Guest Post by Nadia Osman, Young Entrepreneurs Academy Macon Program Manager & SparkMacon Director
Program Manager Nadia Osman updates OneMacon on the successful inaugural class of young entrepreneurs who have taken their business ideas and pitched them this spring to local investors. The original post about the launch of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA) program in Macon can be found here.
In 2016, the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce launched the first Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) program in Macon, and Georgia as well, with SparkMacon serving as a local partner. The aim of YEA! Macon is to encourage local youth to develop their entrepreneurial talents, launch new companies and see Macon as a place where they can make a living doing what they love. The program’s first cohort, which consists of 23 students from local public, private and home schools, began meeting weekly, in September 2016, at the Mercer Innovation Center. Since then, the students have been exposed not only to business principles but to practical applications, through the involvement of local community leaders as instructors, guest speakers, field trip hosts and mentors.
The YEA! Macon students developed business ideas that are actual opportunities, created business plans and, on April 6, they pitched their businesses at the first YEA! Macon Investor Panel event. Six local business leaders served as investors for the event and awarded $12,000 to help the students launch their new companies, which range from service to retail-based ventures. The winning business team, Heros of the Fray, which makes trading card games, will go on to compete at the YEA! National Competition for college scholarships. The two runners up, String Things, which makes dolls and books focused on diversity, and Fix My Sole, which creates custom-painted shoes and apparel, along with Heros of the Fray, will all be featured in an upcoming Macon Magazine issue.
The first YEA! Macon year will culminate with a YEA! Macon Trade Show as part of Open Streets Macon on Sunday, May 21, from 2-6pm. YEA! Macon students will be showcasing their 16 new businesses on Montpelier Avenue by Mercer Village. More details about the program, including opportunities to volunteer with or participate in the next cohort, can be found here.