BV students selected to compete in 2019 Y.E.S. Expo Day
A “smart cane,” to help the visually impaired better overcome obstacles, designer clothing for canines, bounce balls shaped like space rocks and a portable flower garden are among the top 25 business ideas judged to be the best in the state this week for the Arkansas Capital Corporation’s 2019 Youth Entrepreneur Showcase (Y.E.S.) for fifth-graders through eighth-graders.
A press release from the Arkansas Capital Corporation says the 25 finalist teams will come to Park Plaza in Little Rock from 10 a.m. to noon Friday, Jan. 25, for the 14th annual Y.E.S. Expo Day.
Among the finalists are Berryville Middle School businesses “Stress-Less” by eighth-graders Amelia Thurman, Shayleigh Broeker, Alyvia Scroggins and Lily Hillier and “Bom-Boms” by eighth-graders Daniella Arrizon, Alyssa Reed and Thanda Wae. Stress-Less was also selected as one of the top 10 finalists in the “Most Innovative Product” category.
The release says Expo Day, sponsored by Simmons Bank, is free and open to the public. Teams will be competing for first- through fourth-place cash prizes, which total nearly $5,000, and school trophies in four divisions: Best Business Plan, Best Retail Booth, Best Marketing and Most Innovative. Each of the finalist teams will have a booth on Level 3 of Park Plaza, the release says, where they will be eagerly working to convince a new set of judges and the public why their idea is the best for 2019. The winners will be announced at 1:30 p.m. on Level 2 of Park Plaza.
Berryville gifted and talented (GT) teacher Delene McCoy said the students also had help polishing their business plans from the Berryville community this year.
She said James Myatt from Cornerstone Bank, John Gregson from Arvest Bank and Joe Don Sharp from First National Bank of North Arkansas volunteered to serve as a “Shark Tank” to review the middle school students’ business proposals.
“Everyone presented to the ‘Shark Tank,’ and they actually gave some money to the top 10 teams for reinvesting in their business,” McCoy said. “We’d like to give a big ‘thank you’ to them!”
Thurman and Broeker said it was exciting for their business Stress-Less to qualify for the state Y.E.S. Expo.
“We started six weeks ago, getting all of our supplies together,” Thurman said, “and talking about what we were going to make and how we were going to make it.”
Broeker said the team decided to do aroma therapy and made slimes and bracelets infused with essentials oils that are good for stress and sleep.
“It was really cool to qualify for state,” she said. “We were really happy.”
“This year was better because we had everything organized,” Thurman said. “Last year, we didn’t expect to go. This year, we worked really hard on our business plan and actually making stuff.”
She said they had a lot of product ready beforehand.
Broeker said they will need to make more products to sell at the state expo and get their stand and decorations organized.
“I think something we’re going to add is a sign for ‘What is aroma therapy?’ ” she said. “A lot of people don’t get that it’s essential oils. We want to educate people about aroma therapy and how it’s useful.”
“We want to make signs instead of having to make a speech to each and every person,” Thurman said. “It took up a lot of time.”
She said they will also make duplicates of their most popular products to make sure they have enough.
Reed said she, Arrizon and Wae Are excited to move onto the state expo as well.
“It was pretty cool,” Reed said.
“[McCoy] was on the intercom and announced it,” Arrizon said. “There was static and everyone was screaming when Stress-Less was announced. Then she announced us, and we got even more excited.”
Reed said it took a lot of work and money to get their Bom-Boms business ready.
“It was scary going in front of the Shark Tank because they didn’t show any emotion,” she said. “You couldn’t tell if you were doing good or bad.”
“You could tell they wanted to see your product,” Arrizon said. “Some groups did have their product ready, but we didn’t.”
Reed said one of the most exciting moments was during the design process.
“When the bath bombs actually stuck together, we were thrilled,” she said. “They were in two different molds, and it was nice when they actually worked.”
Reed said their business model was “making bath bombs that don’t stain the bathtub.”
Arrizon said they also learned to manage their time better as they worked on the business.
“We learned not to put things off so much,” she said. “We need to decorate our stand for the state expo. We want it to stand out.”
“I think it will be fun,” Reed said. “It was a good feeling at the expo here actually selling our product.”
Sixth-grader Mia Gregson said participating in the Y.E.S. Expo was a good learning experience for everyone involved.
“We learned that this is not something you can do overnight,” she said. “It takes a lot of work. We realized we needed to make sure everybody on our team understood what was going on before moving on to the next step.”
Sixth-grader Kynadee Hopper said she and Gregson repurposed old baby clothes into new items and made wreaths for their business.
“It was really fun getting to decorate,” Hopper said. “I learned there are a lot of people who will want the same kind of shirt, so you have to make sure you can make the same thing twice.”
Sixth-grader Bella Knapp said her team made gift baskets filled with handmade items. She said actually getting people to buy the products is harder than they expected.
“Sometimes we might think our product is good, but other people might not think so,” Knapp said.
Sixth-grader Ashlyn Standlee said her team made candles and won first place when presenting their business to the Shark Tank.
“I think we won first place because we were prepared and had our numbers straight,” she said. “We were able to tell them how much profit we got and answered almost all of their questions. We had done a lot of research.”
Standlee concluded, “Something I learned is that you can’t base stuff on your own opinion. You’ve got to learn what the public wants.”