High School Student Entrepreneurs Exchange Equity for Tuition


Newswise — Two high school student entrepreneurs are exchanging equity in their companies for tuition at Clarkson University through the school's Young Entrepreneurs and Innovators Program, a unique business plan competition.

Evan Jennings, a home-schooled high school student from Lowville N.Y., won the Young Entrepreneurs Award, and Honeoye Falls-Lima High School student Briar Bonadonna of Honeoye Falls, N.Y., won the Young Innovators Award.

Both students have been offered the opportunity to attend Clarkson without payment of tuition, through a combination of merit-based financial aid and a purchase by Clarkson of 10 percent equity in their firm at fair market value.

Jennings won his award for his business the E3cubestore Rubik's Cube and Puzzle Shop. The business is an e-commerce site that sells puzzle cubes designed for speed solving and competition.

Bonadonna was named the winner of her award for her business idea the PodBottle. She has a provisional patent on the innovation, which is a bottle that can store your keys, phone, etc.

Both students will begin their first-year at Clarkson in the fall and receive specialized guidance and support from faculty and alumni mentors. They will also operate their businesses in Clarkson business incubator office space, while pursuing their undergraduate degrees.

Prior to the competition, aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators submitted applications that included a completed business plan, a 90-second video and a brief description of their business. During the competition, the five semi-finalists pitched their ideas to a panel.

Clarkson's first award winner, Matthew S. Turcotte '14, was recently selected by the U.S. Small Business Administration Syracuse District Office as the winner of the 2013 SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Turcotte, founder and president of North Shore Solutions, was chosen for the award based on his company’s increase in sales and profits and his demonstrated long-term potential as a successful business owner. Turcotte has grown his business tremendously during his time at Clarkson, increasing revenues to six figures, while maintaining a Presidential Scholar grade-point average.

Sponsored by Clarkson's Reh Center for Entrepreneurship and Shipley Center for Innovation, the competition is aligned with the educational mission of Clarkson, which has a long-standing tradition of creating entrepreneurially minded business leaders who understand how to develop a successful business, harness innovative technologies and build opportunities for commercialization in the marketplace.

The innovative program was established in 2010 and featured in Money Magazine’s September 2011 issue as a strategy for paying for college.

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