Introducing April’s Alum of the Month + NY Metro’s Student of The Year: Carlos Feitosa

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!

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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.

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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.


 

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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!

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Introducing NFTE’s March Alum of the Month: Priscilla Gyimah

A NFTE Startup Summer alum, Priscilla Gyimah recently completed the GripTape Learning Challenge in December 2016, and we’re excited to share her experience with our community!

Overview

The GripTape Learning Challenge is a call to action to seize ownership of your learning and show yourself and the world what’s possible.  GripTape believes you can and should own your own learning process. Because when you take control over what and how you learn, the results can be powerful: the learning is deeper, more engaged, aligned with your passions, interests and curiosities, and directly connected to what matters to you.

 What is an idea, topic, skill you always wanted to learn? Something you feel passionate about? Something you know you can learn if only you had the time and the money? An experience you can invent, design and drive yourself? That will help you propel yourself onto your path to success.

The Challenge

18 youth were selected to receive:

  • Grants of up to $500 for their learning journey
  • A print and digital certificate of accomplishment
  • Feature on the GripTape website as a model and inspiration for others
  • Letter of recommendation and a noteworthy accomplishment for college applications and resumes
  • Distinction as a pioneer Challenger

Learning journey examples include: creating a community garden; researching and building solar panels; holding a spoken word poetry event; creating a graphic design portfolio; forming a business plan or launching a business; learning a new writing style; researching a moment in time; etc. The more creative, the better!

The Criteria

Think outside of the box and be creative! Learning journeys should:

  • Be designed and completely led by you!
  • Have a learning focus
  • Be an out of school experience
  • Help you achieve a learning goal linked to your success, now and / or in the future
  • Not rely on adult-led experiences (e.g. courses, programs, camps) for more than 1/3 of the time
  • Not require more than $500 of GripTape funding to complete

Priscilla’s Experience

Prior to participating in the GripTape Learning Challenge, Priscilla had the ability to create unique clothing items that catered to women’s fashion. Now, after taking charge of her learning experience, she is skilled in sewing pants – which she hopes will help expand her market to include male clientele. During her journey, Priscilla set specific learning goals and interim milestones, created an implementation plan, formed and managed a budget, and successfully balanced her time between her schoolwork and her passion for sewing. Priscilla strongly demonstrated her ability to make intentional choices and drive her learning. She met the goals she set for herself and learned more than she anticipated: “I have learned how to communicate better with people and speak up more. I also learned to be prepared to adjust and not be under pressure when things don’t go as planned.”

Interested in learning more about the GripTape Learning Challenge? Visit www.GripTape.org where new applications will open in April 2017

Introducing NFTE’s February Alum of the Month: Alex Anthony Cortes-Ose

Last summer, Alex Anthony Cortes-Ose participated in NFTE’s Startup Tech Summer program, a technology, entrepreneurship, and mentorship program for high school students. Students are supported by mentors as they learn to code HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and as they work in teams to create a mobile app prototype, business plan, and pitch deck. At the end of summer, each student team demos their completed app and pitches their business idea in competition for seed capital and other prizes.

Let’s hear what Alex has to say about his Startup Tech Summer experience!


How was Startup Tech Summer different than other classes you’ve taken?

There were quite a few things that made Startup Tech Summer stand out from the rest of the classes I took in high school and other programs, in general. I have never been given access to such abundant resources, met so many professional people, or have the chance to connect with students that shared the same drive for entrepreneurship as me.

As the experience became more of a part of my life, I began to improve in public speaking, as well as being smart and aggressive in order to get whatever it is that I want in life. Without NFTE, I would not feel comfortable in saying that I consider myself an entrepreneurial person or that I know the exact steps that I need to take to start a business, two skills that I feel I will always harness and be thankful for.

What was the biggest challenge throughout Startup Tech Summer, and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge that I faced during the Startup Tech Summer program was actually finding the time to complete my project, which was building a fully functional app and developing a professional pitch. My group and I always had great new ideas that we wanted to implement, and the program kept pushing us to finish in time. While this was more of a personal struggle, I managed to overcome it through focused attention to details in the development process of the app and by consulting my teammates, the program managers, and my mentors when I needed help with something.

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What advice would you give to current NFTE students?

I would like to let current and future NFTE students know that they will be a different person after completing their NFTE program. They will be an improved version of themselves, and the skills that students learn through these programs can benefit them for the rest of their lives, should they choose to use them wisely and have a strong enough drive to pursue entrepreneurship and business.

I never thought that a program could have such an impact on my personality and mindset before I experienced the NFTE program. Participating in a NFTE program is a privilege and opportunity that can change your life.

How do you currently use the skills you gained from NFTE?

After NFTE, I made sure to keep every single resource, be it lecture notes, graphic organizers, online links, anything that I could potentially use to start my own business and pursue professional app development. In addition, the group that I partnered with during Startup Tech Summer is still working with me in seeing our idea through. Our third place finish, though not what we wanted, was a wake up call and only drove us to want to succeed 2 times more! We are using the same skills that we learned in NFTE to see what it is we did wrong as well as how we can improve and succeed in the app market and get our names out into the professional world.

Is there any way NFTE can further support you with entrepreneurship or skill-building at this point in time?

I think that NFTE has done most, if not all that it could have done to support my group’s and my own success in entrepreneurship: the resources, lessons, networks, and people that we have acquired through this program is truly more than I ever imagined getting out of a summer program, and I will forever be thankful for this.

As always, be on the lookout for upcoming Alumni of the Month blog posts, and we will be sharing information about NFTE’s summer programming opportunities soon!

Introducing NFTE’s January Alum of the Month: Sirena Bryan

Happy new year, everyone! Moving into 2017, we are excited to introduce a new monthly blog series, the NFTE Alum of the Month, highlighting one of our many talented and driven alumni. Our first Alumni of the Month, Sirena Bryan shares her NFTE insights and reflections with us.

During the 2014-2015 school year, Sirena participated in NFTE’s Owning Your Future entrepreneurship course and the Year-End Challenge business plan competition. In order to implement her business plan, Sirena participated in Startup Summer, a small business incubator that provides recent NFTE graduates with the resources and support to launch fully functional businesses.


How was NFTE different than your other classes?

SB: NFTE was much different from my other classes because it forced me to focus on the future of my business and my personal future. Compared to my other classes, it was definitely the one I looked forward to the most every day.

What was the biggest challenge throughout your NFTE class, and how did you overcome it?

SB: My biggest challenge with NFTE was networking. I was very shy and quiet at the start of the class so when it came to introducing myself and my business to multiple people, I was very scared. But after the class and the first few weeks in the Startup Summer program, I learned that everyone in the business field started out just like me – shy, quiet, and excited. It motivated me to start talking and let those who were interested know what my business was and what it could offer.

What advice would you give to current NFTE students?

SB: I would let current NFTE students know that running a business won’t be easy after NFTE. It’s as if you’re graduating from school and entering the real world. There will be competition against your business and people who won’t even take a second glance at your business, and that’s okay. Everything is a learning experience and once you learn from your experiences, there will be no stopping you.

How do you currently use the skills you gained from NFTE?

SB: Two of the most important skills I learned from NFTE are communication and calculation. I learned how to start and continue conversations and how to get my point across clearly, and I learned how to properly budget my money for what’s important before rushing towards spending money on something that I want.

Is there any way NFTE can further support you with entrepreneurship or skill-building now that you’re an alum?

SB: I’m grateful for all that my NFTE experience gave me. I learned how to create and develop a business, got exposed to great local businesses, and developed the courage to have a voice.NFTE has done more than I could have ever asked for.


Be on the lookout for our upcoming Alumni of the Month blog posts, and happy new year again to you!