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Posted on: June 23, 2016

SC Middle, High School Students Compete for Seed Money

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MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (June 23, 2016) - In scenario similar to Shark Tank, 8 of South Carolina’s top middle school students and 14 of South Carolina’s top high school entrepreneurs competed at YEScarolina’s first-ever Middle School Competition, presented by Bank of America and the 5th Annual HS State Business Plan Competition presented by the Mark E. Motley Foundation for real seed money to make their business plans a reality. Students came from across the state to present their business plans at the state competitions held at Laing Middle School of Science & Technology and the College of Charleston, School of Business on June 14 and June 15.

YEScarolina is well known for their high school programs, yet this is the first year they’ve been able to expand to reach middle school students. “Teaching entrepreneurship to young people is crucial to the future of the business landscape in South Carolina,” remarked Jimmy Bailey, YEScarolina’s Founder and Executive Director. “We’ve seen incredible success with high school students, resulting in real profitable businesses, and we know our middle school students are capable of conceiving terrific business ideas as well. It’s pivotal for an entrepreneur, at any age, to start with a solid business foundation. Teaching students the process of writing a business plan and helping them comprehend the elements needed to launch a business gives them an advantage in business - and in school. Through writing a business plan, students witness the real-life application of what they are learning in school, making their overall education more relevant to them. That’s why it’s so important to provide entrepreneurship education in our schools throughout the state.”

The expansion into middle schools began earlier this year due to sponsorships by the Hootie and the Blowfish Foundation and the Chick-fil-a Foundation who helped fund summer and after-school programs at several Charleston-area middle schools. In partnership with Bank of America, YEScarolina was able to host our first ever Middle School State Competition. Kim Wilkerson, South Carolina state president for Bank of America shares “Bank of America is deeply committed to investing in our state’s workforce readiness. Unique programs like this are so valuable because they offer students exposure to real world scenarios that can set the stage for long term success.”

Through two rounds of competition, the top middle school finalists were first place winner Isaiah Griffin from Military Magnet Academy with Beach Bubble Ice Cream, took home the $500 grand prize. When we first met Isaiah at a summer biz camp, he already knew he was an entrepreneur and showed all the attributes throughout the camp. Second place went to Gavin Viohl from Laing Middle School of Science & Technology with Miles of Smiles Fishing Charter and third place went to Heather Harris from Laing Middle School of Science & Technology with Heather’s Dog Walking. First and Second place winners, Isaiah & Gavin advanced to the final round of YEScarolina’s 5th Annual High School State Competition presented by the Mark E. Motley Foundation where they competed against the top high school students in the State.

Through three rounds of competition on June 15 at the College of Charleston School of Business, the students presented their business ideas to a panel of business professionals and entrepreneurs. Three students were selected to advance to the final round: Karl Jacobs & Kevin Pascal of Fort Dorchester High School, Christian Wade of Fort Dorchester High School, and Tindall Grace Hutchinson of Florence Career Center. Also, the middle school state competition finalists, Isaiah Griffin of Military Magnet Academy and Gavin Viohl of Laing Middle School of Science & Technology from the day before competed against the high schoolers for the grand prize.

The deliberation was tough, but the scores came in as follows: Karl & Kevin claimed the first place $3,000 prize with their business SchooLanyard, a unique product idea combining all the gadgets you need for school on one lanyard. Karl & Kevin came up with this idea when they experienced the hassle of carrying their school ID, headphones, and flash drive to school. They solved the problem by creating SchooLanyard; the perfect, most efficient lanyard for school or day-to-day use.

Second place and $2,000 was awarded to Tindall Grace Hutchinson for her photography business, Shutter Up Photography. Tindal combined her passion of taking photos to start her own business in Florence, SC 3 1/2 years ago. In third place, earning $1,000 in seed money, Christian Wade will now be able to fund Squeaky Sneaks, a cleaning and repair service for shoes.

Competition winners Karl Jacobs & Kevin Pascal, and Tindal Grace Hutchinson will advance again to compete in a national competition hosted by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) in New York City this fall where $25,000 will be on the line.

To learn more about YEScarolina’s entrepreneurship programs in South Carolina, or to inquire about entrepreneurship classes at your school, visit or email

Youth Entrepreneurship South Carolina (YEScarolina), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is the leading organization in South Carolina dedicated to teaching youth the principles of entrepreneurship and free enterprise. Recognizing that South Carolina’s future is dependent upon a vibrant entrepreneurial economy, YEScarolina is preparing today’s youth to be tomorrow’s business owners and business leaders.

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