BULLHEAD CITY — The American Dream has many components. Entrepreneurship is one of them.
Seven local students have caught that bug, and the community is helping them to get a running start.
The Young Entrepreneurs Academy Class of 2017 celebrated its graduation earlier this month.
The students have started six businesses; not merely lemonade stands, but actual firms that have been fully thought out.
The young entrepreneurs now have experience in writing business plans and attracting investors and know how to get business licenses.
They learned by doing it.
The group spent nine months of Tuesday nights in a Fox Creek Junior High School classroom, conducting market research, hearing from local businesspeople and otherwise following their dreams.
Jules Hunter, an eighth-grader at Fox Creek, said the dream is one that she has always had.
She explained that her grandfather ran a business.
Hunter’s startup is Decadence, a pop-up bakery cart, which provides gourmet cupcakes for special occasions. It has already shown up at a few community events, bringing home a best dessert prize at February’s Taste of Bullhead competition.
Hunter said the program helped her with the paperwork side of operating a business, while she already had come up with product ideas through her love of baking.
She said she plans to keep running Decadence through high school and college and hopes at some point to see it grow into a nationwide chain.
Moses Jehng, a junior at River Valley High School, is engaging another of the senses. His project is Sine Surfer, a smartphone
app that would spread noise-cancellng technology beyond headphones into new uses. He also wants to make it more accessible.
The app uses a phone’s microphone to take in ambient noise, Jehng said, and uses an algorithm to cancel that noise out.
He said he became interested in sound while playing the piano, and had to learn coding to get Sine Surfer going.
Jehng hopes to have the app up and running within a year.
He said the most beneficial part of the program for him was hearing about the business side of entrepreneurship from guest speakers.
“The mentors help take the idea of being an entrepreneur from the theoretical into the practical,” he said.
Long-term, Jehng said, he hopes to become a lawyer, and eventually start his own firm. But he also plans to develop more software.
Also in the class are:
w Fox Creek eighth-grader Alex Cotter, who started a bicycle rental business.
w Fox Creek eighth-graders Acacia Barton and Laila Frei, who launched a school-supplies business.
w Mohave High School junior Dawson Williams, who runs a tourism-photography business.
w RVHS junior Robert Adams, a welding entrepreneur.
The graduation ceremony included mentors advising the youths one more time.
Tim Abrams of the Aquarius Casino Resort talked about his journey from a dishwasher to executive chef.
His advice included to be passionate about what one is learning and to do right by employees and customers.
“A lot of people sell a product,” Abrams said. “Customer service is something that’s individual (and) personal and has a place in every business.”
Joe Keunen of Eagle Motorcycle Rentals talked about his own business journey and how the reality of the market caused him to change his business to match what customers wanted.
“If your business plan is chiseled in stone,” he said. “You’re probably going to fail.”
Young Entrepreneurs Academy is a program of the Bullhead Area Chamber of Commerce. Sponsors include Colorado River Schools, DIEB Enterprises, Little Caesars Pizza, Brian Hunter-Premier Executives Real Estate, Living Waters Hospice and Mountain View Homes.
Chamber interim executive director John Pynakker lauded the young entrepreneurs for their hard work and dedication to their enterprises. He also praised program manager Chris Barton and program instructor Christine Williams.
“They’ve put in hundreds and hundreds of hours,” Pynakker said.