The Mentor Match Youth Entrepreneur Program wrapped up its eighth year May 2 with a pot luck and awards banquet.
Top Producer, based on total revenues earned, went to Joseph Charter School senior Will Caldwell for his business Caldwell’s Vacation Rentals.
Wallowa high senior Daniel Delancey earned Most Likely to Become an Entrepreneur for the effort he put into his business, Daniel Delancey’s Signs.
“It was the most successful year we’ve ever had in terms of revenues,” said Mentor Match advisor Stacy Green. “Previous revenue records were shattered, and three entrepreneurs joined the $1,000 Club, earning at least that much from September to the end of April.”
In addition to Caldwell and Delancey, Courtney Bailey joined the $1,000 Club with her recycling business.
The Mentor Match program, administered and funded by Building Healthy Families, is an out-of-school mentoring program that meets every other Wednesday evening and requires participants to create their own for-profit business. The free program is open to all county juniors and seniors.
The other entrepreneurs who successfully completed the program included Enterprise senior Eliza Irish, who taught ski lessons at Ferguson Ridge Ski Area to young children; Joseph senior Maddie Bailey, who purchased GoGo Grocery from her sister Courtney, who founded the business last year; and Ashley Wilson, Wallowa senior who created Expressive Art, creating from scratch an art curriculum targeted to lower valley kids.
“The entrepreneurs showed tremendous innovation in meeting needs and solving problems,” said Green.
Green showed up unannounced at one of Wilson’s art classes, held Saturday afternooons at the Lostine Grange, “and I was so impressed. Ashley had clearly spent a lot of time preparing. She had just shown a short presentation about Leonardo DaVinci, and the kids were learning how to make flowers out of clay.
According to Wilson, the experience “confirmed that I want to teach art as a career.”
Through the experience of creating their own business, entrepreneurs learned about sales and marketing, customer service, negotiating with customers, accounting and general business skills.
Green brought in other business owners to help teach things like logo design, how to sell to major accounts like Costco and WalMart and how to recover from failure.
For the first time, first-year entrepreneur Erich Roepke, who graduated from Enterprise in 2012 and earned “Most Likely to be an Entrepreneur” that year, was Skyped in from his new home in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he works for National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklen.
Roepke talked about creating a “personal thesis” to help guide major career decisions.
“Mine is ‘adventure with purpose,’ so I only take jobs that fit that criteria,” he said.
With Paul Nicklen, Roepke travels around the world helping document the health of oceans. His work has taken him to Antarctica, South America and remote islands off the coast of Norway, among other exotic locations.
“Erich was my favorite guest speaker,” said Eliza Irish. “What he is currently doing is amazing.”
The entrepreneurs favorite class covered the four basic temperament types and how each type is necessary for the functioning of a business or community.
“I learned a lot about myself and others with the personality test,” said Delancey.
The group is heading to San Francisco June 7-10 for the annual Leadership and Innovation Tour, and through a local connection will be touring the office of the mayor, seeing the marketing side of San Francisco International Airport.
The group also hopes to connect with two former participants: John Green, EHS class of 2013, who created “Rent a Son” with business partner Sawyer Wick when he was in the program, is now a software engineer for a small company in San Francisco; Madison Falk, EHS class of 2016, who won Most Likely to be an Entrepreneur for her photography business is now a commercial photographer in San Francisco, and counts Doc Martens among her clients.
“That’s been the most fun, seeing what these young entrepreneurs do from here,” said Green. “I am excited to see the paths this year’s participants will take.”