High school students square off in seed funding competition

Staff Report
Published May 14, 2014

A training device for basketball, a Mexican food delivery service and an at-home dog kennel are all ideas being developed by entrepreneurs in Charleston.

These entrepreneurs are high school students, and 30 of them recently competed in a business plan competition. Five of them were awarded seed funding and moved onto the next round.

Dekeiya Cohen, a West Ashley High School student, won first place and received $1,000 for her business idea, The Catching Prodigy. (Photo provided)
Dekeiya Cohen, a West Ashley High School student, won first place and received $1,000 for her business idea, The Catching Prodigy. (Photo provided)
YEScarolina, a nonprofit that works to help young people from around the state build business skills, hosted the Motley Rice County Business Plan Competition for the third consecutive year.

The entrepreneurs presented their ideas and innovations to six judges, including Sparc CEO Eric Bowman, Carolyn James and Laura Holcomb of Motley Rice, local attorney Margie Pizarro and Christine Osborne, the owner of Wonder Works.

Osborne said it was a “great experience and opportunity to see what the young entrepreneurs of Charleston are developing.”

Dekeiya Cohen, a West Ashley High School student, won first place and received $1,000 for her business idea, The Catching Prodigy. Cohen invented a training device to improve the catching ability of basketball players. Cohen is a senior and will be attending Baylor University on a full basketball scholarship.

The second-place prize of $500 went to Paola Macias and Claudia Soto of Charleston Collegiate School. The duo came up with the business idea Two Beans, which would produce authentic Mexican tamales. They plan to break into the food delivery service industry by selling their tamales frozen in packs of ten.

Riley Steward, a ninth-grader at Charleston Collegiate, won the third-place prize of $250 for her business Riley 2 the Rescue, which would provide more affordable pet-sitting service than a kennel. Steward operates this business from her parent’s house on John’s Island.

The two runners-up were Jasmine Godbolt of Summerville High School for her child care business idea, The Village, and Austin Thomas of Fort Dorchester High School for his business, Charleston Auto Detailing.

These five local students now advance with 15 other students from around the state to the Mark Motley State Business Plan Competition, which will be held on June 18 at 5:30 p.m. The competition at the College of Charleston School of Business is open to the public.

The first-, second- and third-place winners will receive $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000, respectively. The first-place winner will also advance to the NFTE National Challenge, Oct. 9 in Silicon Valley.

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