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Who Will Be Named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneur?

  • Teens to Compete in National Entrepreneurship Pitch Competition
  • National College Scholarship Start-up Pitch Competition Livestreamed Worldwide

On October 17th, 36 teens from around the country will compete to see who will be named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneur during the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) 12th Annual Saunders Scholars National Competition.  The virtual live Shark Tank-style pitch competition will award over $80,000 in cash prizes and college scholarships to the Saunders College of Business at RIT to the students with the best businesses in the U.S. Viewers will be able to cast their vote in real-time for the People’s Choice Award.

36 student semifinalists from 20 states will compete virtually representing 35 schools from across the country for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and a People’s Choice Award.  For the first time ever, the national competition will be a live broadcast from ABC-TV 13 WHAM Rochester, NY studio and will be live streamed on YEA!’s YouTube channel.

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Students first competed locally in front of Young Entrepreneurs Academy investor panels in their hometowns in early 2020. The top business from each YEA! chapter was selected by a local panel of judges and will now go head to head at four semi-final panels to take place and streamed live throughout the day on October 17th  from 12 noon to 6pm Eastern Time. Two student businesses from each semi-final panel, for a total of eight student businesses will advance to the finals round and pitch live from 7pm to 8pm Eastern Time in front of thousands of viewers. National winner announcements at 7:55pm Eastern Time.  Viewers must register at yeausa.org to participate in the text-to-vote People’s Choice Award.

“The competition is an incredible event celebrating the creativity, grit, and perseverance of America’s young people,” said YEA! funder and billionaire entrepreneur, Phil Saunders. “This year more than ever, we need to acknowledge the achievements and innovations of these young people.”

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The YEA! program is designed to help middle school and high school students build confidence through entrepreneurship education. Students participate in a nine-month curriculum often hosted in partnership with local chambers of commerce, colleges and universities, and middle and high schools.  With the help of local business leaders, the students design, pitch, and launch businesses, complete with founding documents, bank accounts, and websites.

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“YEA! is such an amazing experience for our community and for our Chamber,” shared Troy M. McLellan, President & CEO of the Greater Boca Raton, Florida, Chamber of Commerce and member of the National Board of Directors of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy.  “Not only are we able to engage our members in a meaningful way, but we’re also creating a professional network for our young people, which we hope will encourage them to keep their talents here.”

“We could not be more proud of the work these young people are doing and of our partners who are leading the charge across the Country delivering YEA!’s entrepreneurship education programs,” said YEA! founder and CEO, Gayle Jagel. Our chambers of commerce, incubators, accelerators, universities, colleges and K12 partners who come together through YEA! are igniting the sparks of innovation in their communities and our country. Just imagine what our world would look like if every student got the chance to bring their ideas to life.”

This year’s awards will be sponsored in part by the E. Philip Saunders Foundation, Southwest Airlines, and the Saunders College of Business at RIT. Since 2004, YEA! has helped over 11,0000 students launch 9,000 businesses and has had alumni compete on ABC’s Shark Tank, product feature on Good Morning America, and YEA! graduates have raised millions of dollars in VC funding.

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