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Caleb Keller was selected to join the Young Entrepreneurs Academy Saunders Scholars National Competition for Richland County. 

MANSFIELD ─ Five new business ideas created by Richland County students received financial boosts on Tuesday evening.

The five “business owners” had participated in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) since November and pitched their business plans at the program’s annual YEA! Investor Panel Event. The judges allocated $4,000 in total to the businesses from the YEA! Fund.

Caleb Keller, a Franklin University student, pitched Pathify, an online technology company. He said businesses that need to deliver products to an array of addresses often need to figure out by hand which places each vehicle has to go.

Pathify will ease the burden by allowing customers to upload the addresses to a system, processing the information and assigning the deliveries to each driver with formatted routes, Keller said.

He said the service would help businesses be more efficient and profitable.

Keller asked for $1,293.73 for Pathify’s start-up funding. The judges awarded him $1,200. He was also selected to join the Young Entrepreneurs Academy Saunders Scholars National Competition for Richland County in late June, where he will compete with students from across the country.

Keller said he tends to stay to himself and doesn’t talk a lot. The YEA program taught him how to give a presentation and let people understand what he says, which was helpful.

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Mark Brooks, Mansfield Senior High School student, wants to start a custom school apparel business called A.N.T. Co.

Mark Brooks, Mansfield Senior High School student, was the only one that received the full amount of the requested fund. He asked for $1,275 for A.N.T. Co., a custom school apparel vendor. It was awarded $950 from the judges and got an anonymous donation of $325.

The business’ first two products will be T-shirts and masks. Brooks said he hopes to help students develop design skills through A.N.T. Co.

He said he enjoys networking with different business leaders and speakers through the program. Their advice was always valuable and made his pitch better.

David Winans of Ontario Middle School pitched David’s2toring on Tuesday. The business will offer math tutoring services for third to eighth-graders.

“There was a fifth-grader that I helped last year. Knowing that he had a good time with me and his grades improved inspired me to do this,” Winans said.

The judges awarded the business $500 of the $629 request.

Winans, who loves math, said his favorite part of the YEA program is learning about financials. He understood that it's essential to make sure a business’ expense is less than the income to make money.

Kate and Piper Hilterman, homeschool students, are the youngest entrepreneurs this year. Kate, 12, pitched Heart of Gold to the judges and received $1,200 of the start-up fund. She wanted to expand her love for dogs by creating a Goldendoodle breeding business.

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Piper Hilterman, 11, pitched her business plan for Piper Cleans on Tuesday.

Piper Cleans, Piper’s business, was awarded $150. It is a personalized cleaning business. The 11-year-old girl said she has already served some customers.

“I can take the stress out of cleaning and make your place organized and fresh,” she said with confidence.  

Nikki Lewis, foundation manager for Mansfield-Richland Area Educational Foundation, said the five students learned different knowledge of business operation in the past five months from various speakers. Topics include insurance, business law and personal style.  

“The hope is that by the time they graduate, they have built a network of resources that they can lean on later in life,” Lewis said.

The students worked on the name and other basics of their businesses throughout the program, Lewis said. They also learned to write a business plan and make pitches.

One of the business owners will win The People’s Choice Award later this week. Lewis said the Facebook followers for YEA Richland can vote for their favorite student pitch from April 21 to 23. Check the program’s page for more information.

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