Published On: Thu, Oct 15th, 2020

Local Teen Makes Her Way To Shark Tank- Like National Business Competition

Eighteen year-old Kasandra Diaz had a vision which she made come to fruition through a program called Young Entrepreneurs Academy [YEA!]. One where she will have the opportunity to compete at the 12th Annual Saunders Scholars National Competition on October 17th.

Through the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce, YEA! provides students, such as Diaz, with ample opportunity and skills in order to feel confident enough to create and pitch their inventions and/or business services to a panel of investors, which began at the front end of 2020.

Diaz’s journey was first initiated when she found out about the program during her Business course at Boca Raton Community High School. 

“I was in my senior year when I found out about the program from my Business teacher,” Diaz said. “Automatically it struck my interest, so I decided to join. They had a certain criteria; you had to go for an interview in order to get accepted.”

YEA! is a program for teens formed 10 years ago by the city of Boca Raton with the intent on helping today’s youth become tomorrow’s leaders. With a $800 admission fee, students not only get to potentially begin their career, but also learn and develop new skills and connections.

Through mentorship and guidance, the program provides students with their respective mentors who come from the background of entrepreneurship and business management. Coordinators who are invested in the potential of these teens’ future.

“There were three main mentors that stayed with us throughout the year that helped on different things,” Diaz said. “I had one who would help with financial, one wuld help with advertising and the other would help with business plans.”

Foundation Manager, Sherese D. James Grow explained that entrepreneurship programs help an individual to develop who they are no matter if you walk into an internship or a potential job opportunity.

“It grows every piece of you,” Grow said.

Now, with the effects of COVID-19, the competition’s rules and regulations have been reconstructed in order to assure the safety of everyone involved. 

Having the competition live streamed on YEA’s Facebook page through EventBrite, not only will thousands of people have access to watch for free, but the contestants have a little more leeway when it comes to the requirements. 

“I think virtual helps a lot of people, it does help me also. They gave us different opportunities– you can use notes,” Diaz said. 

She explained how under regular conditions the competition would have been held in New York and all of the contestant information would have had to have been memorized. 

“I feel comfortable, I’ve gotten adjusted to all the online and I’m super excited especially after my first competition which was locally,” Diaz said.

Providing right-to-you services for contractors, Diaz’s mission with her new service is to bring tools, supplies, and resources to these businesses and companies. Some may not be able to stop what they’re doing in order to go pick something up to complete their job or task.

This is where Diaz’s Quickdropped comes into convenience. Her dad owns a roofing company, so Diaz shared her own experiences on how her father would call her to get him supplies and pay her for it.

“He paid for the convenience, he needed something now and he couldn’t disrupt his job or get one of his workers to leave the jobsite,” Diaz said. “With my app, Quickdropped, you can get it there on the spot.”

Grow explained that some students come in knowing exactly what they want to do, maybe have an idea, or not at all.

“Kasandra actually came in with an idea already,” she said. “So, from the idea that she had, we just asked questions to help her fine tune the direction she wants to go to really develop that idea.”

As a Foundation Manager, Grow coordinates every piece of the YEA! program from the lessons, scheduling, activities, guest speakers who will attend the classes, the mentors, and the students– managing the detailed parts of the entire program. 

Diaz didn’t always know she’d be an entrepreneur, in fact, her heart was set on the medical field. But once she saw that the potential for her service met opportunity through the right program she was set on making this happen.

A lot of her family members are entrepreneurs so it was something that she knew she would be supported with– her and her step dad came up with this idea together.

“This is one that I’m really interested in and I’m going to start,” Diaz said. 

If you’re interested in watching the live competition in about one week, visit the YEA’s Facebook page or visit for more information. 

Top left image: (red shirt) Kasandra Diaz and right next to her, Sherese D. James Grow

“This is something I will always say and forever say, entrepreneurship is not just about creating a business so you can make money,” Grow said. “Join an entrepreneurship program so that you can develop who you are professionally and personally.”

About the Author

- Bria is a Junior Multimedia Journalism major at Florida Atlantic University where she is also a Staff Writer for the University Press. She is working hard to learn and grow as a writer and journalist, here at the Boca Raton Tribune, as her goal is to become a Sports Reporter for ESPN.

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