Shopping card sterilizer wins top honor at Investor Pitch Competition
By: Dale King
Taking a cue from need related to the pandemic, Jordan Herold, a 10th grader from American Heritage School in Delray Beach, created a business called “Stericart” to sterilize shopping carts.
His entrepreneurial proposal took top honors at the Investor Panel Competition held last week for the 12 Palm Beach County students enrolled in this year’s Young Entrepreneur Academy (YEA) sponsored by the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce.
The annual contest that normally completes the YEA term, was held in a “Shark Tank”-style setting. It gave YEA participants three minutes to present a summary of their business idea to a panel of four judges. It also offered them the opportunity to seek cash from potential investors to help bankroll their business operations.
Chamber President and CEO Troy McLellan said Herold created Stericart “out of concern for the safety of his family and friends during the current pandemic. Stericart provides shopping carts with a ‘carwash’ of UVC light. By applying this light, shopping cart handles become more sterile than when cleaned with a traditional sanitizing wipe.”
Herold’s plan shows a 12-foot-long, 12-foot-high “tunnel” with UV lights on the top. Carts are rolled through and sterilized for reuse by store customers.
The 10th grader will represent the Boca Chamber’s YEA Chapter in national competition in Rochester, N.Y. later this year.
Actually, the 2021 competition – presented in virtual format via computer due to the COVID-19 threat — yielded two winners. Kennedy Murray, a home-schooled student, created a business service called KALMPound, which provides counseling and resources to high school students of color. During his presentation, he described the effort as a “mental health nonprofit” which aids youthful learners at no cost to them.
Kennedy received $1,275 in seed money based on the business relevance, need and economics of his proposal, said Golden Bell Foundation Manager Sherese James-Grow. YEA is part of the Chamber’s Golden Bell program that also distributes money to Boca schools to buy needed items not covered by education budgets.
This year’s runner-up was Chloe Levine, a 10th grader from Saint Andrews School, with her business, Buddy Belt. Designed for dog owners to use when they walk their pets, the unique belt features nine customizable, adjustable and detachable compartments for treats, poop pickup bags, wipes, a collapsible water bowl, medical items and other supplies.
She received $1,200 to help pay for her ongoing business efforts.
Coming in third was Leah Gonzalez from Wellington Landings Middle School whose business, Blue Baked Bakery, received $1,150 from investors. Gonzalez’ entrepreneurial proposal prepares and sells two healthy food treats, keto chocolate chip cookies and alfajores, Panamanian sandwich cookies filled with dulce de leche, a creamy caramel confection made from milk and sugar.
The Young Entrepreneurs Academy, now in its 11th year, is an educational program that takes students in grades six to 12 through the process of starting and running real businesses over the course of a full academic year.
Students work closely with local leaders of industry, community members, and educators to develop ideas and objectives, write business plans, pitch potential investors, obtain funding, register with governmental agencies and develop their brand identity.
By the end of the course, students own and operate fully functioning businesses that can be carried on after graduation. YEA’s direct mission is to help students embrace their passion, energy, creativity and talents, launch a venture and view entrepreneurship as synonymous with success and freedom.
McLellan proffered his thanks to instructors and mentors “who helped to make this year’s virtual program a success.”
In addition, he offered his gratitude to this year’s investor panel judges: Robert Finizio, CEO of TherapeuticsMD; Zoe Maloney, senior vice-president and chief human resources officer at Office Depot; Lise Orr, vice-president of Minuteman Press and Sam Zietz, CEO and founder of TouchSuite.
Among speakers at the event was Kasandra Diaz, last year’s YEA winner. Then a senior at Boca Raton Community High School, she said she had “an amazing experience” at regional competition in 2020.
Other students who made presentations during the March 3 Investor Panel event were Christian Frenette, The Real-World Money Game; Mithil Kosa, Better Brace, for soccer players and other athletes; Emily King, Camp DeLight Virtual Camp; Rithik Mandalapu, Shop EZ; Zachary Schiller, Social Share; Camila Spinosi, Buddie Visits; Jacob Wein, Free Play and Joshua Rubin, Shootle.