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Local CEOs Offer Advice To Young Entrepreneurs

Jan 17, 2018 07:25PM ● By Jeanne Fratello
Aspiring young business leaders heard homegrown success stories firsthand last month at the Young Entrepreneurs Academy's CEO Roundtable.

Five local business leaders - Brandin Cohen of Liquid I.V., Brian Espinosa of Optimism Entertainment, Russ Lesser of Dive N' Surf, Loli Ramazani of Always Best Care Senior Services, and Phil Stover of Blue Skies Unlimited - spoke before an audience of about 65 students and community members. They shared with students their start-up stories, their best practical business advice, and advice on how to succeed in the face of failure.

"The audience was so engaged you could almost hear a pin drop," said Nellie Ambrose, program manager for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!). "They really got a taste for what it is like to be an entrepreneur. For the current students, it was a real motivator. They came out from the event 'on fire' and ready to get their businesses going."

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy takes students aged 11 to 18 through the process of starting and launching a real business or social movement over the course of an academic year.  Throughout the year, students work in close cooperation with local business leaders, community leaders and educators who use their personal experiences to demonstrate how to develop business ideas and objectives, write a business plan, pitch to investors, obtain funding, register with governmental agencies, establish e-commerce and a web presence, and more.

According to Ambrose, one of the upcoming highlights of the YEA! program is the "Shark Tank" style panel in April, where students pitch their business ideas to a panel of investors. There will also be a trade show at the end of the year where students display and/or sell their products to the community.

By the end of the 21-week class, students own and operate fully-formed and functioning businesses, which may be carried on after their graduation from the program. One student will be selected by the investors to represent Manhattan Beach among all of the other YEA! programs around the country.

The YEA! program, now in its third year in Manhattan Beach, aims to bridge the business and academic communities together, while creating meaningful ties to the area for students. The program currently operates at more than 200 sites all over the U.S., with the goal of expanding to chambers of commerce, colleges, universities, and school districts in every community across the country.

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