A panel of investors from the Lake Zurich Area Chamber of Commerce (LZACC) sponsored program, the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) recently awarded four businesses from YEA! a collective $5,154 They also chose Jason Krasavage and his business, Modern Media Conversions, to compete in the Saunders Scholars Bright Idea Competition in Rochester, NY.
“He presented the best and his business plan was very solid," said Lynn O’Brien, investor panel judge. The awards were presented at Lake Zurich High School.
Krasavage, 13-year-old eighth grade student at will travel to the competition in May and compete against 30 other YEA! chapter winners by presenting his business idea. Scholarship money to Rochester Institute of Technology is awarded to the first place winner - $30,000, the second place winner - $25,000, and the third place winner - $20,000.
“He has a very good chance of winning as long as he gives as strong of a presentation as he did in front our investor panel,” said Dale Perrin, LZACC executive director and YEA! program director.
Since LZACC has been sponsoring YEA! for the last two years, they have placed in the competition each year: 2009 – 1st place - Matt Brazeau, freshman in college, for iBraz and 2010 – second place – Alyssa Laystrom, freshman in high school, for Polka Dot Pony.
Krasavage created Modern Media Conversion after seeing a need from his third grade teacher to convert old technology into new technology.
“She had a bunch of cassette tapes and I converted them into CDs for her and made good money doing it,” explained Krasavage. His business also will convert VHS tapes, records, DVDs, and photos into newer media formats using the latest technology.
He along with his classmates have been working on their businesses since October. The YEA! program is for students in grades sixth – 12 who want to learn about starting their own business.
From October until May students who enroll and pay the $198 fee, meet on a weekly basis. The curriculum is designed to be taught in three parts by three instructors and guest speakers who are industry leaders and entrepreneurs from the community.
Each section of the curriculum focuses on brainstorming, forming the business plan, and bringing the product or service to market.
“It’s great to have YEA! run by the Chamber because if we need an expert in finance or an expert in marketing, we have people like that at our fingertips,” said Perrin.
Each business or student is also paired up with a mentor that helps them with their business plan.
“Avis Bonnett (senior mortgage loan officer at US Bank Home Mortgage) was such a huge help in making my product look professional and with finances,” said Krasavage.
His other classmates were stiff competition coming up with “innovative business ideas:”
Nicole D’Onofrio – Business - Rhillip, Inc. - - Senior (17-years-old)
Michael Fuell - TechManuals - Lake Zurich High School - freshman (14-years-old)
Alvin Pham – TechManuals - Lake Zurich Middle School North- sixth grade (11-years-old)
Brian Kieffer – CyCaddy - Lake Zurich High School - Junior (16-years-old)
Will Peet – CyCaddy - Lake Zurich High School- Junior (16-years-old)
JD Parcheta – JD Scholastic Lawn Service – Senior (16-years-old)
D’Onofrio was accepted to the Culinary Institute of America in New York and requested to the panel that no funds be distributed because “I will be busy as a full-time culinary student, but the experience of coming up with my own business was great.”
“The kids are very poised and passionate about their businesses,” said Michael J. Egan, superintendant, Community Unit School District 95. “It a great application of life skills and real world.”