Last school year, Carlos Feitosa was introduced to NFTE by participating in a NFTE entrepreneurship course at his high school in the Bronx. Born and raised in Brazil, Carlos grew up on a family owned farm. There, his family grew organic produce that ranged from lemons to mangoes. Being surrounded by nature influenced his family to use all natural products.
After moving to New York in 2015, Carlos started using regular soap products bought at convenience stores. Around the same time, Carlos began to break out on his skin. Because of this, Carlos started paying closer attention to the labels of the soap products that he was using. Surprisingly, he discovered that the soap he was using was filled with a long list of hard-to-pronounce chemical ingredients. Carlos went online and researched what was the best way to prevent acne without chemicals, and he found that it was with soaps. Soon after, Carlos’s business idea, Shine Soaps was born.
Once Carlos started his entrepreneurship class and got started with his business plan, his determination and excitement towards entrepreneurship exploded. Last spring, he competed in NFTE’s regional business plan competition, the Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge (YEC), and then continued to work on his launching his business by participating in the Startup Summer program. One of his favorite parts of having his own business is sharing his elevator pitch with potential new customers.
Today, Carlos sells his handcrafted, all-natural soaps online at www.shinesoaps.com. He is an incredibly active and engaged NFTE alum, and we are so excited to share that he is not only our April Alum of the Month, but also NY Metro’s Student of the Year!
We got together with Carlos to ask him a few questions about his experiences in the past year with NFTE.
1. How was NFTE different than your other classes?
NFTE was different than my other classes because it was a class that showed me how the world actually worked. My NFTE class wasn’t just sitting down and doing work, it was about applying different skills into creating a business idea and eventually a business plan and then presenting it. By participating and engaging on a deep level in my NFTE class, I realized that although I love aviation, business is actually what I want to follow as a career.
2. What was the biggest challenge throughout your NFTE class, and how did you overcame it?
For me, the most difficult time was actually putting everything that was in my head onto paper. Writing everything down and figuring out all the pieces that it takes to have a great business plan was very stressing. I overcame that challenge with a lot of research and revision of my plan.
3. What advice would you give to current NFTE students preparing for their in-class business plan competitions?
I would tell students not to be lazy and get out of their comfort zones. I’d also tell them to take every opportunity that presents itself. NFTE offers amazing support and workshops that add value to their business plans and presentation skills.
4. How do you currently use the skills you gained from NFTE?
Currently, I am a Teaching Assistant for the NFTE class at my school. I am supporting current NFTE students who are going through the process of finalizing their business plans and practicing their business pitches. In addition, I’m also using all the skills that I learned from NFTE in making decisions on how to fun my business, Shine Soaps.
5. You were named NFTE New York Metro’s Student of the Year. What does that recognition mean to you?
Being recognized as Student of the Year means a lot to me. It means that among the 3,000+ current NY Metro students, I was able to make a difference and be considered an example. I also believe that is not just me being student of the year, I believe that all of us are students of the year, but not everyone has the opportunity to be nominated. I feel honored to represent NFTE students, who make a big difference in our schools and communities.
6. What opportunities have you gotten to be a part of as the Student of The Year?
After being nominated, I was able to meet and network with a wide range of NFTE alums and teachers from all over the world during NFTE’s annual Global Showcase. In addition, I had the opportunity to chat with high ranked staff from companies ranging from Google to MasterCard.
I also had the opportunity to be on NY1 to discuss entrepreneurship, and be seen live on TV by friends and 7 million spectators. Recently, I was invited to apply for a business plan competition in Saint Louis, called Angels in the Outfield, and I got selected as one of the 10 finalists! I will be presenting my business, Shine Soaps, in Saint Louis at the end of this month.
We congratulate Carlos on both his Student of the Year recognition and wish him good luck in St. Louis at the Angels in the Outfield competition!