By Simone Elder
Dear YEC Student,
Congratulations on your accomplishments! It was exciting to see you in action, telling your story about the business you’ve planned or started. Perhaps you’ve heard that many adults come up with ideas, but never even go as far as writing them down and making a plan, so extra kudos to you for your work! You’ve shared something you care deeply about in front of judges and bravely awaited their feedback. Even if you didn’t win, you grew!
One of your fellow participants at the Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge (KEC) started participating in the NetWork Kansas Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge (YEC) Series as a freshman. She threatened to jump out of the car on the way to her first competition, imagining that the threat of presenting an idea would cause more harm than meeting the road at 65 miles per hour. After receiving feedback from the judges and networking with other competitors, she determined to return the next year and win. And she did! The next year she came up with a new idea entirely and made it to the KEC, not as the local champion, but in a wildcard spot. This year she built on her previous idea and won her local YEC Series event. This is not only a story of perseverance, but also one of looking for the next opportunity. And this thing that caused her so much fear as a freshman has now become something she is majoring in and devoting herself to in college.
Even if you only compete once or you major in something other than business or entrepreneurship, know that the lessons of public speaking, identifying opportunities, and setting goals will serve you well in the future. We believe in each student who enters a local YEC Series event and the KEC event because you are the future of our state, with your brilliant ideas and hope. I challenge you to look for other opportunities in your community this summer. Chances to start your business in a small way, or find a mentor in an industry that interests you. Those local partners who helped host the qualifying event are often looking for ways to help you find your next opportunity in the community.
Don’t lose that fire, young entrepreneurs. These skills will serve you well no matter which path you take.