On Wednesday night at the Norwalk Community College, 28 students gathered for the Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship's that would see only one of them walking away with a $1,500 check and a trip to nationals.
The winning pitch, coming from 16-year-old 11th grader Daniel Chupalov, of Stamford's was for a produrct named Stormshield. It was an idea Chupalov came up with as he struggled with his instruments in heavy cases throughout school each day.
What if there was a lighter alternative to these heavy cases, one with a more universal design that allowed for just about any kind of instrument, that protected just as well as bulky alternatives because it was filled with memory foam?
Those are the thoughts Chupalov had that led him to design a business model for Stormshield and look into patenting the product. When he walked away the winner, he admittedly wasn't shocked.
"It feels great," he said after getting a giant novelty credit card for $1,500. "I started puting this together in January and spent a lot of time perfecting the presentation. I was definitely confident going into this that I'd go far."
The NFTE uses the competition with hopes that it will teach high school students entrepreneurial skills as they head to institutions of higher learning with the hopes that the students will be savvy enought to "make their job."
The program awards a start-up fund for the presented business model and plan a panel of judges selects as the winner.
Of the 28 students from 11 different schools, four of the final five presentations chosen for further review in the final round came from Stamford, and the last came from Norwalk.
Of the top three that walked away with a cash prize, each of those students attended the same school: Stamford's .
Among the other great finalist pitches were:
- John Sarrazien Jr. & Billy Claydon's first runnerup pitch for a GPS tracker web and mobile application for finding food trucks which earned them $750. Both are students.
- Third place, $500 winners James Korin & Will Huse's top-of-the-line hand-crafted electric guitars. Both are also students.
- Honorable Mention Jada Williamson's crafting business between a girl and her grandmother making hand-knitted scarves. Williamson is a student in Norwalk.
- Honorable Mention Karla Castro's bake at home cupcake delivery service. Castro is a student in Stamford.
Brand new Executive Director of NFTE, Diane Rosenthal, was excited for the students to have a chance to pitch their ideas before a panel of judges from the business world.
"Each student here tonight has gone through a local and regional series of competitions," she said. "These students are the best of the best."