Local student wins entrepreneur awards at state contest
Twenty-four final teams were invited to participate in the 2017 High School Utah Entrepreneur Challenge and Showcase. (Julie Slama/City Journals)
In a competition that attracted nearly 150 student business idea submissions from high school students throughout the state, Bingham High School student Caleb Christensen was a winner.
The high school senior won the $1,000 prize at the 2017 Utah High School Entrepreneur Challenge in mid-April for his project, “Valle,” a high-end clothing brand for urban and streetwear designs.
The $1,000 Lassonde Studio Scholarship is earmarked to live in the University of Utah’s Lassonde accommodations. The Institute provides students an opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship and innovation.
“I am very surprised to receive the scholarship,” he said. “This is one of the reasons why I entered the entrepreneur challenge — to have a chance to live there when I attend the U.”
Caleb, who worked on the project about one month before it was due this spring, said that the challenge also appealed to him because of his interests.
“I’m really interested in business and clothing,” he said. “I feel dress does portray how you feel — if you’re confident, if you’re comfortable. I also don’t like the idea of sweat shops and actively not purchase ideas that are made there.”
Caleb researched his project and decided to make his items with the idea of donating 10 percent of his proceeds to organizations he provides for consumers to choose.
“It’s up to how the public chooses where Valle can make a difference,” he said.
Caleb also created a marketing and business plan, which he relied on his knowledge from previous high school classes.
“I’d like to be an entrepreneur, especially with this clothing brand,” he said. “I applied what I learned in classes and then made some changes to it as the project evolved.”
After learning he was one of 24 finalists, he sewed some examples of his clothing line to present to judges at the April 15 contest.
Then, Caleb and others got the chance to pitch their ideas to judges, made up of many influential community leaders. Teams’ ideas and business presentations ranged from a portable solar panel to affordable homes for the homeless.
“I’m really excited about this and want to make it a business,” he said. “I’ve wanted to do this since I was a sophomore. So this opportunity to compete for a scholarship helped me be motivated to apply what I’ve learned and put my idea to the test.”
The goal of the Utah High School Entrepreneur Challenge is to help high school students explore innovation and early stage business.
“It was an incredible experience to see up-and-coming entrepreneurs showcase their hard work and pitch their idea to the judges,” said Stephanie Gladwin, a University of Utah senior and chair of the High School Utah Entrepreneur Challenge.
In nearby Sandy, five city residents presented an air scare device, which won the $1,000 best prototype award. The project is an innovative small, portable and non-polluting air dancer, which makes a positive impact by making air travel safer and saving birds’ lives by scaring them away from airports, said the team consisting of Beehive sixth-graders Allison Drennan and Tim Holt; Midvale Middle School sixth-graders Abigail Slama-Catron and Eric Snaufer; and Alta High’s Katie Drennan.
In Draper, American Preparatory Academy entered “Board Buddy,” a innovative method for beginner snowboarders to catch their edge. The product, which is made of hard plastic that prevents riders’ downhill edge from touching the snow, was awarded a $100 finalist prize.