When two teen entrepreneurs competed in Denver Startup Week’s Pitch Competition last year, few expected that they would take home the Grand Prize, an award worth $100,000. Their win surprised and delighted the crowd, and has inspired a new group of young entrepreneurs.
For a second year, Junior Achievement-Rocky Mountain and Young Americans Center for Financial Education nominated four entrepreneurs who competed in the Youth Pitch Challenge with their business ideas. This year’s events were held virtually. The winner, Jack Bonneau, who had previous experience pitching in front of the “sharks” on TV’s Shark Tank at just 10 years old, earned a coveted spot in the semifinals of Denver Startup Week’s Pitch Competition, facing off against adult entrepreneurs. But he didn’t stop there. Jack progressed all the way to the finals, where he was one of just six competitors.
Competing students from Junior Achievement included:
At 14 years old, Jack pitched his business, Teen Hustl, a neighborhood service in which teens deliver from restaurants and grocery stores on eco-friendly scooters and bikes.
Jack was the youngest person to ever successfully pitch on TV’s Shark Tank at 10 years old for his first business, Jack’s Stands and Marketplace.
“It was a once in a lifetime experience,” he says of his successful pitch in front of the “sharks.” Now he’s shifting focus to his new business, which was inspired by the need he noticed to create job opportunities for teens like himself.
“Decades ago, teenagers used to have their own paper route, but those kinds of opportunities don’t exist for teens today,” Jack says. “With the meteoric rise in food delivery companies, I thought how about we bring back a work opportunity for teenagers through food delivery, and that’s what prompted Teen Hustl.”
He adds that superior customer service is what sets Teen Hustl apart from competing services. Learn more about Teen Hustl in this short video.
At 17 years old, Vikas pitched his business, Intake, an app that focuses on users’ nutrition with an emphasis on body positivity. He pitched it with his three co-founders, Saaz Ahuja, Sahil Kakkad, and Aarnav Sharma, all of whom live outside of Colorado but can participate in the Pitch Challenge thanks to this year’s virtual format. The four students met at an entrepreneurship camp last summer.
Intake was inspired by co-founder Saaz’ experience being overweight when he was younger, with low self-esteem and self-image.
Vikas explains, “there’s a stigma against people who look overweight or look a little different, and they are sometimes considered to not be healthy, which is not necessarily representative of all people. So we created this idea for an app that shows people how they can be in control of their diet and eat healthy, and feel good about themselves no matter how they look because they know they are healthy, so it doesn’t matter what other people think.”
Vikas pinpoints his love of business and entrepreneurship to his time at JA Business Week.
“JA helped me understand what entrepreneurship is, and how I can apply what I learn to the rest of my life. I can say definitively that my first year at JA Business Week is what sparked my love and interest in business and entrepreneurship.”
The two students competing from Young Americans were:
At 15 years old, Gabe pitched his nonprofit Light CO2, the result of more than 400 hours of dreaming, researching, and building a concrete path to help individuals reduce their individual carbon footprint.
At 17 years old, Leonard pitched his business Cardbound, which sells authenticated and rare Pokemon cards and accessories to markets across the globe.