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Five Knox County students won cash prizes for business plans they developed while attending the week-long Empowered Teen Entrepreneurship Summer Camp at UT.

Fourteen aspiring entrepreneurs—representing ten Knoxville-area high schools— learned career skills through hands-on activities at the camp, which was a joint effort of UT’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Entrepreneurs of Knoxville, and Ultimate Life Institute.

The camp included workshops, forums with local entrepreneurs, tours of local businesses, one-on-one mentoring, and long days of developing business plans—all focused on providing the young aspiring entrepreneurs with the skills, mindsets, and mentoring to help them achieve business success.

“In one week, we would develop a business plan around something we were passionate about. I didn’t believe it was possible,” said Brandon Harris, a senior at Austin-East High School. “We produced a video, designed business cards and a poster, and presented our plan to a panel of entrepreneurs.”

The week’s activities ended with a “trade show,” where the students set up booths to explain their businesses to guests, judges, and family members, aiming to win a cash prize.

Judges, guests, and family members thought the students’ work was impressive.

“I was blown away by the business plan presentations and what the students created in only one week,” said Leo Knight, founder of EOK. “They accomplished all of it after we kept them busy every day in the classroom and interacting with local entrepreneurs.”

Prize money recipients were:

  • First place ($300): Brandon Harris, a senior at Austin-East High School, and Jacob Grayson, a sophomore at Bearden High School, for “Predator Athletics,” an innovative athletic shoe that could be adapted to more than one sport.
  • Second place ($200): Emily Bright, a 2012 graduate of Christian Academy of Knoxville, with “Fixy Female,” a business to teach single women how to handle tasks frequently done by men.
  • Third place ($100): Shay McKinney, a sophomore at West High School, with “ReBiRth,” a business to make and sell inspirational messages from recycled materials.
  • Fourth place ($100): Mackenzie Lee, a freshman at Bearden High School, with “Abstract Impressional,” a business to make jewelry and art objects from used art class paint brushes. The sale of the objects would provide funding for new brushes, thereby ensuring a steady supply of raw material for the business.

“We were very pleased with the results of this first camp,” said Tom Graves, operations director for the Anderson Center. “Developing entrepreneurial talent is a key component of our mission, and the earlier we can inspire and mentor young entrepreneurs, the greater the likelihood they will become successful value-creators.”

Plans are under way for a July 2013 camp. Contact Graves at tgraves10@utk.edu for more information.

C O N T A C T :

Cindy Raines (865-974-4359, craines1@utk.edu)