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Pitches Pay Off At MVCC YEA! Investor Panel Event

Eight middle and high school students from Oneida County pitched their business ideas before a panel of  8 real-life investors to compete for funding at the First Annual Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) Investor Panel Presentation Event at Mohawk Valley Community College on Thursday, April 18. The students presented before representatives from some of the area’s biggest companies as well as an audience filled with family, friends and members of the community, for the opportunity to gain funding for their original ideas- that could be the next big thing!

On Thursday night, the Investor Panel donated monetary contributions and in-kind donations, as well as their support and encouragement in their belief that they too can make a job- not take a job- at any age!

The investor panel consisted of the following business professionals:

Gregory Benincasa, President, HR Beebe, Inc.
Robert Korrie, President, Beebe Construction Services, Inc.
Cathy Newell, President, Mohawk Limited
Christopher Dovi, First Source Federal Credit Union
Kristy Nole, First Source Federal Credit Union
Pamela Matt, Executive Director, Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce
David Manzelmann, Market President, M&T Bank
Ben Crossley, Assistant VP, M&T Bank

The funds were divided and allocated to the businesses that the investors felt had a well thought out plan, and an idea that had a good chance at success.  The Mohawk Valley Chamber awarded one CEO with a one year chamber membership. Mohawk Valley Community College awarded the CEO finalist with a Presidential Scholarship. 

The investments were as follows:

Balloonies, a balloon gift company, received $1000 in startup funds. Owner Yasmine Mohamed is in sixth grade at Otto Shortell Middle School in Oneida. Yasmine was selected as the Saunders Scholar Finalist by the Investor Panel. She goes on to compete in Rochester at the Saunders Scholar Event, with 41 other students from around the country. Yasmine also received a Presidential Scholarship from MVCC.

Toast Tees, a product based company making custom t-shirts and other promotional items, received $590 in startup funds. Owner Michael Marchio is in tenth grade at New Hartford Senior High. Michael was also the recipient of the one year membership from the Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce.

  • MOTTO (Matching Outstanding Teens to Organizations), an online service connecting teens to volunteer opportunities, received $600 in startup funds.  Owner Christopher Abbe is a senior at Clinton High School.
  • Stellar Students, a tutoring business, received $475 in startup funds. Owner Shawn Essafi is a ninth grader at New York Mills Union Free School.
  •  True Motivations, a company providing motivational posters for cancer patients and their families, received $315 in startup funds. Owner Shanequa Lewis is in seventh grade at Donovan Middle School in Utica.
  • Mahoney’s Woodworks, a product-based company making handmade wooden trellises, received $590 in startup funds. Owner Alex Mahoney is in eighth grade at Holland Patent Middle School.
  • Victoria’s Cupcakery, a unique, upside down cupcake company, received $290 in startup funds. Owner Victoria Mironova is in seventh grade at JFK Middle School in Utica.
  • Morreall Electronics, an electronics company producing encrypted flash drives, received $140 in startup funds. Owner Christopher Morreall is a senior at Proctor High School in Utica.

Students will now begin marketing and selling their products and services, and preparing for the YEA! Trade Show to showcase their goods to the general public.  The Trade Show will be held on Wednesday, June 5 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at a Mohawk Valley Chamber Business After Hours Event, held at Mohawk Valley Community College in the Jorgensen Event Center.  This event is free and open to the public.