RICHMOND, Va. -- The Meadowbrook Academy for Developing Entrepreneurs kicked off their inaugural "Shark Tank" inspired event hosted at the VCU da Vinci Center Shift Retail Lab Wednesday night.
The Chesterfield School provides specific entrepreneurial curriculum to passionate and curious students.
The academy expanded its curriculum to include a “Shark Tank” opportunity for high school students at all grade levels.
It was able to take place because the Chesterfield Education Foundation connected with the Meadowbrook Academy with a $20,000 fund for entrepreneurial growth. That grant was from the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond.
Outside of curriculum taught in the high school academy, the VCU da Vinci Center partnered with students in the academy. They mentored them and helped them get ready to participate in their Entrepreneurship Academy to learn more skills.
All these opportunities prepared students to take their skills and put it into action. Students got up in front of a panel of "Sharks" who asked questions and provided feedback of their business plans.
For freshman Kileya Johnson, it meant highlighting the kids pillow pocket line she created. She plans to start selling them on the website and social media she built out in the future.
“It feels great to be able to take the class time to work on our website or make our business model canvas,” she said.
For freshmen Melissa Alacron and Maya Tinsley, it meant creating a hair care line for woman of color. They proudly displayed the products and branding they created in front of the "Sharks."
“I’ve always wanted to be self-employed and find something to express my creativity,” said Alacron.
Other business companies included music producing, video game instruction, mental health chat rooms, inclusive clothing and skin care products.
Students said that this experience is preparing them for the future. They found it nerve-racking, but exciting to get on stage and pitch to a room full of people what they are passionate about. They said this program is unique because so many of their peers have no idea how the business process works, and what all it takes to put an idea into action.
Richmond entrepreneur Elliot Eddie got involved in being a "Shark" and helping the schools program to help educate and inspire these students. He said he couldn’t imagine where he would’ve been had he had a program like this.
“It’s so important to be part of this, to let them know this can be done. It’s important to be visible and be accessible to show them,” he said.
For these young entrepreneurs, they said this educational experience is just the beginning. They plan to take this skills from this program and apply them in everyday life.