The Kentucky Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs (GSE) hosted its first Demo Day on Saturday, July 15 at Transylvania University.
Sixty high school students divided into teams and pitched various businesses to a packed theater of parents, local professionals and others. Visual presentations and prototypes accompanied the pitches.
Young entrepreneurs showcased their transformation through GSE by briefing the audience on proposals for everything from freelance employment services to adjustable window tinting.
GSE Event Coordinator Tasha Sams said, “Demo Day was remarkable. It was an instance where our Entrepreneurs took charge and what they learned truly became their foundation for success.”
The top three placing teams received plaques, and the top five will present at a SPARK event on July 19.
The top five teams and their products included Biochar, organic charcoal; QuickClick Glasses, customizable glasses frames; Leaf Web, a net to catch falling autumn leaves; Zon, essential oil-infused jewelry and ContactMe, an app for contact users.
“From improved public speaking skills to confidence and amazing business savvy, they surpassed my wildest expectations for what teenagers could accomplish,” Emily Blair said.
Blair, a Virginia Tech B.A. and University of Louisville M.A. graduate, was a team leader for three of the five top teams—LeafWeb, BioChar and Zon.
“I was bursting with pride watching them pitch their original ideas,” Blair said.
Demo Day was the conclusion of GSE’s three-week accelerator program designed to instill Kentucky youth with a sense of what it means to be an entrepreneur.
Students attending the program received lessons on topics ranging from identifying customers and competition to financing, and listened to a plethora of guest speakers, including Lexington Mayor Jim Gray.
Between lessons and planning sessions, students visited the Asbury University Challenge Course, toured Toyota Motor Manufacturing’s Georgetown site, participated in a ‘color war’ and shopped at Kentucky for Kentucky.
GSE also gave its participants the opportunity to use 3D printers, meet angel investors and venture capitalists, speak to lawyers, transfer high school class credit and receive scholarships.
“Kentucky GSE has given me an amazing three weeks, where I’ve learned more about myself, met incredible people and got to learn how to start a business from scratch,” Vidhi Desai—Zon team member and Eastern High School rising senior—said.
Each year, GSE looks for high school students to attend (requiring no minimum GPA) and college faculty, staff and students to work as resident advisors, team leaders and media interns.
For more information about GSE, Demo Day or employment opportunities, visit Kentuckygse.com.