Youth showcase innovation at Young Entrepreneurs Pitch Competition

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Tom Hall
Thomas Hall. executive director, Thomas Family Center Hub

A group of energetic eighth graders from Robeson County displayed creativity, originality and innovation at the annual Young Entrepreneurs Pitch Competition.

Eight teams of budding entrepreneurs from Southeastern Academy in Lumberton and Communities in Schools (CIS) Academy in Pembroke pitched products ranging from a digital fingerprint firearm safety lock to contractible fishing rods.

The friendly “Shark Tank-style” competition was hosted by UNC Pembroke Thomas Entrepreneurship Hub in downtown Pembroke.

“The competition allowed students to learn skills they will need in the real world such as markup pricing,” said UNCP graduate student Karen Hayes-Locklear, a teacher at Southeastern Academy. “It also taught them critical thinking skills, how to work together as a team and better understand the process of creating an idea piece by piece. They got to see how the skills they are learning in school can be applied in real life.”

The students incorporated the Ice House methodology which draws upon eight fundamental concepts of entrepreneurial thought drawn upon the book, Who Owns the Ice House? Eight Life Lessons from an Unlikely Entrepreneur.

The Tangle Me Knots team invented a hair care product designed to protect swimmers against long term exposure to chlorine. The Hydro Cars team from Pembroke developed a vehicle that could run off water, while the Eve Saver group researched a new screen protector intended to protect users from exposure to blue-light–the glow emitted from most smartphones, tablets and laptops.

Judging the competition were Barry O’Brien, dean of the School of Business, Christine Bell, MBA program director, and Randall Jones, former CEO of Lumbee River Electric Membership Corporation. Prior to announcing the overall winner, students voted Bullseye as the People’s Choice Award winner. After an intense deliberation, the judges proclaimed Kaia Kontainers as the winning team who devised a plan to market and sell biodegradable water bottles made of bamboo.

“We wanted to help with the litter problem and how it’s killing our animals, our land and resourceful areas,” said Takorah Long, a member of the winning team from CIS Academy. 

Also accepting the certificate for the top team were Rayla Craft, Michael Berumen, Chloe Locklear and Tyler Scott.