• Chamber Announces 2019 YEA! Shark Tank Investor Panel Winners

  • Moorhead, Minn. (March 28, 2019) – Last week, the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber hosted its fourth annual Investor Panel Shark Tank event as part of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) program. Ivy Mastrud, a seventh grader at Ben Franklin Middle School, took first place in the competition for her business, BowWow Bo-ties, receiving $1,000 in funding and advancing to the national YEA! Saunders Scholars competition in Rochester, New York.

    Additionally, Caleb Knudsen, a sophomore at West Fargo High School, was the recipient of the second-annual People’s Choice award, sponsored by Office Sign Company, for his business, Vacuum It All. The winner was determined through a live poll in which event attendees voted for their favorite presentation and business idea.

    Held on March 19 at Minnesota State University Moorhead’s Gaede Stage, a panel of investors from local businesses heard pitches from nine local high school and middle school students who competed for real funding from the panel. Mastrud was chosen to move on and will be among more than 100 students nationally selected to compete in the Saunders Scholars Competition in New York on May 3. There, young entrepreneurs will compete for the opportunity to advance to the finals where they can win up to $30,000 in college scholarships and business startup prizes.  

    YEA!, founded and headquartered in Rochester, New York, offers programs in over 100 communities across the United States, China and India. During the course of the YEA! program, which spans 25 weeks of an academic year, students work closely with business and community leaders to guide them as they learn to transform ideas into real, tangible companies that create economic and social value. The Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber is the first and only organization to host a YEA! program in North Dakota and one of few in the entire Midwest.

    BowWow Bo-ties offers coordinated accessories for pets and their people. Mastrud hopes to expand into local stores and farmers markets and produce even more custom products for pets.

    Other students in the local YEA! program, and their businesses, include:

    •    Haison Nguyen, Capsized
    •    Isabelle McLean, Hold the Phone
    •    Alex Niemi, Waterproof Aquatics
    •    Hanna Johnson, Project Star-Crossed
    •    Ethan Scott, Scotty’s Hats
    •    Puja Chhetri, Green Lint
    •    Abby Lind, Sweet DoughNations

    Josh Teigen, president of Mind Shift, served as the students’ lead instructor throughout the year. Dan Michaels, president of Dan Michaels Audio, emceed the event. The presenting sponsor of the program is Cornerstone Bank.  

    “Cornerstone Bank is proud to have been the presenting sponsor of the YEA! program since its inception,” Jeff Thomas, SVP - Market President at Cornerstone Bank, said. “At Cornerstone Bank, one of our core values is to develop and invest in the future success of our community. The training and values students gain through YEA! are exactly in line with our mission.”

    Applications for the next YEA! class are open from April 1 to September 15. Interested students are encouraged to learn more and apply at fmwfchamber.com/YEA.

    About The Chamber
    The Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce is a bi-state, regional federation of more than 2,100 private, public and non-profit member firms representing more than 109,000 people. The largest local chamber in North Dakota and Minnesota, The Chamber advocates for a strong metropolitan community and supports the interests of its members, which are located in Cass and Clay Counties and beyond.

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