LEMOORE — Lemoore Middle College High School junior Saylor Lopez started her business, Loud Mouth Karaoke, through the Lemoore Chamber of Commerce’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy and last week she pitched her business ideas in front of a panel at the 2017 Saunders Scholars competition in Rochester, New York.
Young Entrepreneurs Academy is an academic after-school program for sixth- through 12-graders that runs for 29 weeks. During the course of the program, students take field trips and learn business principles from business mentors in the community. Each student in the Lemoore program came up with an idea for a business and worked on a business plan.
Saylor’s business idea is a special karaoke trailer available for people to rent for their events. She competed in the semi-finalist event at the Rochester Institute of Technology against 97 other students and their business ideas.
She got this opportunity after she and the other students in YEA, Stephen Gong, Kevin Gong and Breanna Monsivaiz, each pitched their ideas to an investor panel of local business owners in a "Shark Tank-" style competition last month at West Hills College Lemoore.
YEA program manager Brittany Reece, Saylor and her mom, Sabrina Baker, left for Rochester on May 4. Saylor said she was overwhelmed and a little intimidated by the amount of people at the competition, but eventually she talked to more young entrepreneurs and became comfortable and encouraged by the other students.
The competition lasted for 13 hours on May 5, Reece said. Luckily, Saylor was able to pitch her idea in the morning session. She said none of the other young entrepreneurs had ideas like Loud Mouth Karaoke, saying most of the ideas were apps.
Saylor pitched her idea in front of around 50 people. She was actually relaxed and said she thought Reece and her mom were more nervous for her. She just told herself, “I got this,” and then focused on her speech cards and got the pitch done.
Reece said she was impressed and proud of how Saylor handled everything, especially given that she was in front of a room full of strangers after sitting through a dozen other speeches before hers.
“It’s a lot of pressure to get up and do something like that, and she got up there and delivered her presentation,” Reece said. “By far, hands down, the best presentation she’s given all along this year.”
“To be honest, I was kind of more worried about lunch than everything else because I was really hungry,” Saylor said laughing.
Though she did not advance to the finalist round, she was able to watch the finalists pitch their ideas and saw the winner of the competition. The winner was a business called Stench Snipers, an all-natural product that helps eliminate the smell of hockey gloves or other sportswear.
As the program manager, Reece said it was a great experience for her to see all the student business ideas from across the country. She said she learned a lot when meeting with the other program managers, and she can’t wait to implement those new ideas and expand the program.
Saylor’s mother said her daughter has definitely grown through the experience and she thinks it’s great that students get this opportunity. Baker said the trip to Rochester was fun and it was great getting to see other students give their business pitches and answer questions.
Baker said she hopes the program continues and grows and puts Lemoore on the map for launching successful young business owners.
“There are not many kids that get to do cool things like this that get to start their own business and get support from the community and other business owners,” Baker said. “I haven’t seen anything like it, so it’s pretty cool.”
Saylor said she definitely enjoyed her experience in Rochester, and is enjoying her experience in YEA altogether. She said she would encourage any student to give the program a try. Right now, Saylor is in contact with the person who is customizing her karaoke trailer, and hopefully her business will be operational in a few months.
“I appreciate Ms. Brittany and my mom, definitely, for pushing me through because she’s the one that signed me up,” Saylor said, adding she also appreciated her mentor, Damon Miller, for helping her with her business plan.
The YEA student entrepreneurs will hold their trade show at the Soaking Tub on May 18 during Thursday Night Market Place, where they can meet people, hand out fliers and get their information out to potential clients.
The YEA students’ graduation will be at 6 p.m. May 25 at the Lemoore Chamber of Commerce Train Depot. At the graduation they will hold ribbon-cuttings for their business after becoming honorary members of the Chamber of Commerce.