For the second time, a Bloomington High School team will compete nationally at the Virtual Enterprise National Business Plan Competition in New York City.
The school’s Mace Case Virtual Enterprise company will compete at the 2020 Youth Business Summit April 21-23 in New York. The team earned the spot after placing fifth in the state competition in Bakersfield earlier this month. Another BHS team, Life Cycle, also made it to the finals at the state level, placing 8th. The top six California teams are eligible to compete nationally.
Two years ago, Bloomington’s High Rise Gardens Virtual Enterprise team participated in the National Business Plan Competition and placed among the top 6 teams in the nation. This year’s winning team is working hard to do even better than their successful predecessors, and hope to continue getting better and better.
“It’s amazing how much we’ve changed and progressed,” noted team member Jeanne Gonzalez, who serves as the Mace Case CEO.
“We never thought we’d make it this far, especially New York,” added fellow team member (and Jeanne’s twin sister) Jazmin Gonzalez.
Virtual Enterprise Business Plan competitions involve student teams developing virtual businesses. Students write intricately researched business plans and then make a “pitch” for their product to panels of expert judges. Students also have to answer detailed questions about their business on everything from their financials to how world events and economic conditions might affect their business’s success.
The virtual product the Mace Case company came up with is a variety of cases to hold pepper spray containers on cell phones. Although there is not an actual prototype, the team shared designs in their business plan. They also had to include financials, a marketing plan, industry analysis, organization chart, safety and liability information and much more.
The idea for the product came from discussions about safety concerns stemming from people focused on their phones and not paying attention to their surroundings.
The students first competed regionally in Redlands, and then moved on to the state contest.
“The most exciting part was advancing round to round,” noted team member Emilio Arriaga.
When it was announced that the team would go to nationals “I started crying,” team member Jocelyn Paz recalls. “I was like ‘no. no.’ It’s always the same teams that always go to New York.”
Along the way, the team had to hear constructive criticism. Teacher Robin Buckles said she is impressed that they took judges’ comments to heart and made adjustments as needed instead of getting upset or emotional about the input.
“Don’t take it personal. It’s just business,” said team member Samuel Moreno, whose older brother Enrique was a member of the 2018 winning Virtual Enterprise team.
Beyond the win and opportunity to participate on a national stage, team members say that participating in the competition and in the Business Entrepreneurship pathway has helped them to grow as individuals and to gain skills that will help them throughout their lives.
“Before I didn’t really talk a lot. This helped me to get a job and boost up my social skills,” stated Jazmin, who added that she learned how to put together a successful resume.
“It boosts your confidence,” added Jeanne.
“It helps you to prepare for real-life scenarios,” added Samuel, adding that he has developed strong communication skills and learned the importance of staying on task.
Team members also said it was nice to see adults take them seriously and treat them as professionals. “It makes you feel like you’ve grown up,” said Chief Financial Officer Ivan Herrera.