• Chamber Announces YEA! Shark Tank Investor Panel Winners

  • Moorhead, Minn. (May 1, 2018) – Last month, the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber hosted its third annual Investor Panel Shark Tank event as part of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) program. Zoe Bundy, a seventh grader at Discovery Middle School, took first place in the competition for her business, Brainy Ladies, receiving $1,750 in funding and advancing to the YEA! semi-finals.

    Additionally, Jack Machacek, a junior at Oak Grove Lutheran School, was the recipient of the first-ever People’s Choice award. The winner was determined through a live poll in which event attendees were able to weigh in with their favorite presentation and business idea. Machacek was awarded a prize package of personalized promotional items for his business, UnProfessional, donated by Office Sign Company.

    Held on April 10 at Minnesota State University Moorhead’s Gaede Stage, a panel of investors from local businesses heard pitches from 14 local high school and middle school students who competed for real funding from the panel. Bundy 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 this week. There, young entrepreneurs will compete for the opportunity to advance to the finals to win college scholarships ranging from $25,000 to $50,000 and business startup prizes.  

    YEA!, founded and headquartered in Rochester, New York, offers programs in over 100 communities across the United States. During the course of the YEA! program, which spans 30 weeks of an academic year, students work closely with business leaders, community leaders and educators 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.

    Brainy Ladies is a subscription-based website that provides educational content and activities for girls interested in STEM.

    “Walking into YEA!, I had no business idea and no business knowledge, but a big passion for leadership, entrepreneurship and STEM,” Bundy said. “Walking out of YEA!, I still have those passions, and I also have started a business called Brainy Ladies. YEA! has changed my life by giving me an understanding of business and a bigger voice. Before, I didn’t enjoy public speaking, and now it’s my favorite.”

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

    •    Tyler Niemi, Oak Grove Lutheran School, Red River Auto Marketing
    •    Isabelle Chambers, Woodhaven Academy, NerdSport
    •    Jack Stoppleworth, Kindred Public School, Stoppleworth Defense
    •    Amber Brekhus & Abril Arce, Sheyenne High School, AllHere
    •    Hannah Slater, Fargo North High School, Paradox Archery
    •    Ivy Mastrud, Ben Franklin Middle School, LIFT
    •    Derek Johs, West Fargo High School, DEV
    •    Ameena Jovonovich, Fargo North High School, Books For Tomorrow
    •    Jake Monson, Park Christian School, & John van Litsenburg, Davies High School, Simplistic Solutions
    •    Raini Endicott, Woodrow Wilson High School, Big Picture Project

    Josh Teigen, president of Protosthetics, served as the students’ lead instructor, and Jeff Thomas of Cornerstone Bank and Andrew Abernathey of Abernathey Holdings shared that role for a portion of the year. Dan Michaels, president of Dan Michaels Audio, Mix 101.9 talk show host and public address announcer for NDSU Bison football games, emceed the event. The presenting sponsor of the program is Cornerstone Bank. 

    Applications for the next YEA! class are currently being accepted. 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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