Entrepreneur pitch competition for youth comes to Ann Arbor

In the investment world, pitch competitions are in vogue. But almost all of them cater to adults. 

The Blue Ocean Entrepreneurship Competition, however, is calling for pitches from all business-minded high-schoolers in Ann Arbor. Run by, and for, students, the contest is the biggest high school entrepreneurship competition in the United States. 

Thousands of dollars in cash prizes (both for students and the schools with the most submissions) is not the only incentive being offered. "Students will get their pitches evaluated by professional entrepreneurs," says Ted Dacko, the competition's executive director. 

All types of business ideas are welcome. Last year's first place winners created PromElle, a fashion app for teen girls that facilitates peer-to-peer rentals and loans of prom dresses. The third place winners pitched a peer-to-peer app called WeTutor that connects students with affordable peer tutors in their area.
Ted Dacko
Dacko, a local entrepreneur and the former CEO of HealthMedia, adds that entrants will have access to valuable content and exposure to the renowned Blue Ocean business concepts on the competition's website. Furthermore, "many schools have a business program and teach entrepreneurship and encourage pitch competitions," Dacko says. "Teachers can have another avenue to help students learn about entrepreneurship without any additional effort."

Dacko, who also teaches an entrepreneurship class at the University of Michigan, is available to present at any high school interested in having their students learn more about entrepreneurship or how participation in the contest can have long-serving benefits.

Recognizing that Ann Arbor is an entrepreneurial hub, he stresses that it's important to have local students grow by learning how to compete internationally. 

"We need to see how our ideas stack up against a broader pool of talent from areas like Silicon Valley, New York City and Boston," he says.

Applicants to the Blue Ocean Entrepreneurship Competition can submit their proposals from Oct. 15th to Dec. 31st. For more information and to register, visit blueoceancompetition.org. Ted Dacko may be reached at tdacko@me.com.

Jaishree Drepaul-Bruder is a freelance writer and editor currently based in Ann Arbor. She can be reached at jaishreeedit@gmail.com.
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