Entrepreneurship program awards more than $20,000 in seed funding to BGCC members

Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago

Club member Andrea, 16, was nervous. She had never pitched a business idea before – let alone to four business mentors with decades of experience and companies that are valued in the millions.

"It was a bit nerve-wracking in the beginning. I noticed I was talking a bit slow and mumbling," Andrea said. "But then, eventually, when I saw them engaging and smiling, it made me feel good about my product and more confident. I knew we had a good idea."

Andrea was just one of 11 Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago (BGCC) members who teamed up to pitch business ideas to a panel of successful Chicago entrepreneurs during BGCC's new entrepreneurship program, StartUp LaunchPad. The judging panel included Dr. Suhail Mohiuddin, Founder of Dentologie; Diane Primo, CEO of Purpose Brand; Quintin Primo, Chairman & CEO of Capri Investment Group; and James Valadez, CEO of Startup Rocket.

Five teams presented their business plans and were awarded seed funding ranging from $2,500 to $5,000 to bring their ideas to life and move forward with the next stage – launching their business.

"It means the world to get the funding," said participant Damarieye, 17, whose business, Angelic Lockz, is designing a kill switch to prevent cars from being stolen. "We worked really hard on this ... we really wanted to solve this issue. To be able to keep moving forward is amazing."

During StartUp LaunchPad's four-month program, members created a business idea, built a team and developed every aspect of their startup with the help of Club staff and guidance from Uncharted Learning, a nonprofit organization that provides programs and professional development to help students acquire durable, transferable skills through entrepreneurship education...

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