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Starter Labs encouraging early entrepreneurship education

PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) – For the second consecutive year, the Starter Labs East Kentucky High School Pitch Competition is inviting students to pitch potential businesses, win cash, and expand their minds.

“This competition is a really good way for high school students to get inspired into entrepreneurship,” said Do Good Brands Founder Ryan Jones.

The competition asks students- or groups of students- from schools in the 606 area code to submit an application and a 60 second presentation video, pitching a business that addresses a problem with a unique solution. The presentation will be judged by a panel of professionals, based on the presentation, customer identification, clear pathway to marketing, and other markers. Jones said it is about problem solving and working on the many different aspects of what it means to sell your idea.

“We need to create more creative young people and get more young people interested in entrepreneurship,” Jones said. “And we need to get them to think that entrepreneurship is a career. It’s not something that you just do as a side hustle. This could be your full-time job.”

Jones, who is also a small business owner operating Lincoln Road Roastery and Lincoln Road Coffee Lounge as well as on online presence, says it is important to plant the ideas and encouragement in young minds. He believes starting in high school could help create a more clear path to future business for the folks interested in being their own boss, as well as make better employees for businesses who are looking for out-of-the-box thinkers.

“I think it’s really important for the future of our economy to have more small businesses, more entrepreneurs, more jobs,” he said. “We can’t always hope for the next company to come in and invest from the outside.”

The competition is a partnership between Do Good Brands, Invest 606, Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs (GSE), and University of the Cumberlands, creating a pipeline for GSE and giving students an early jump on networking, planning, and working towards a goal. It also comes with cash prizes: first place receives $1,000, second place receives $500, and third place receives $250. Outside of the grand prizes, Jones said if more than one group or individual represents a school in the competition, at least one project will receive $50. He said it is about encouraging the students to follow their ideas.

“There’s a lot of opportunity to also win money in this,” he said. “And to be able to actually reinvest it into your idea or, you know, do something else with it.”

Jones encourages students to get their teachers involved in the process. The previous year’s winners at Belfry High School said their pitch became a collaborative effort in public speaking, writing, and more as they worked with teachers to prepare.

The deadline for applications is December 7 and the Facebook showcase is scheduled for Dec. 17. You can find more information, or apply, here. Any questions or requests for guidance along the way can be sent to Jones at [email protected]

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