FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 5, 2007
NFIB and Visa USA Announce 2007 "Young Entrepreneur of the Year" Winner
Wisconsin Teen Takes Skateboarding Passion for a Ride on Path to Successful Business Ownership
WASHINGTON, DC – June 5, 2007 – The 18-year old owner of Board to Death Skate Shop, a Wisconsin business that sells skateboards and skateboarding apparel, has won the 2007 National Federation of Independent Business/Visa USA "Young Entrepreneur of the Year" Award, the two parties announced today.
In recognition of his entrepreneurial achievements and spirit, Henry Schwartz of Menomonie, Wisconsin has been awarded a $10,000 educational scholarship. It will be sent to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater to help defray the cost of his tuition this coming fall. Mr. Schwartz was chosen for this top honor from among four other winners of the NFIB/Visa USA National Young Entrepreneur Award.
"Entrepreneurs, like Henry, find ways to make their hobbies and talents real business assets. Henry and all of this year's award winners have demonstrated that there is unlimited potential for our country's young entrepreneurs," said Don V. Cogman, chairman of NFIB's Young Entrepreneur Foundation. "NFIB is proud to be partners with Visa in identifying, recognizing and helping this raw talent grow and prosper as these students continue to thrive as successful business owners."
At the age of 11, Henry's passion for skateboarding lead him to a local skateboard shop called Board to Death, where he first cultivated his entrepreneurial aspirations. It was here where Henry learned first-hand how a small business works and gained valuable experience in everything from marketing to customer service. Upon finding out Board to Death was up for sale a few years later, Henry wasted no time and, at the age of 15, used his hands-on experience and observation to become its new owner on May 1, 2004.
Shortly after taking ownership, early Board to Death Skate Shop sales were strong, which led to the business turning a profit after its first summer with Schwartz at the helm. This helped establish the company as the "premier skate shop in town," according to Schwartz. As a result of this success, Henry needed more retail space, so he relocated his expanding company on September 1, 2006.
In fact, his inventory has grown at such a pace that he now plans to get an electronic point-of-sale (POS) inventory control system. Board to Death Skate Shop will soon be selling its merchandise online at www.skatebtd.com.
"Henry's ability to turn his skateboarding passion into a paycheck should be an inspiration to all young, aspiring business owners," said Rhonda Bentz, vice president, Visa USA. "His success story is the reason why Visa and the NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation are working together to ignite interest in entrepreneurship and inspire the next generation of business owners."
"I want to thank both NFIB and Visa for their generosity, support and recognition of my efforts," said Schwartz. "It has been an amazing journey full of hard work, frustration, ingenuity and most importantly, joy. This scholarship will help further my knowledge of the business world at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater."
The NFIB/Visa USA "Young Entrepreneur of the Year" award is given annually to the top applicant in the NFIB Young Entrepreneur Awards program, sponsored by NFIB's Young Entrepreneur Foundation. To earn a scholarship, students were asked to demonstrate their entrepreneurial achievement by answering a short, personal questionnaire defining their efforts. Standardized test scores, GPA and class rank were also taken into consideration. Schwartz was chosen by an independent selection committee from a field of more than 3,200 candidates who were nominated by NFIB members.
The four other winners of the NFIB/Visa USA National Young Entrepreneur Award will each receive a $5,000 scholarship. They are:
- Carl Harper of Daphne, Alabama: Plans to attend the University of Alabama. Sharing their love of technology at an early age, in 2003 Carl and his brother made their business ownership dream a reality by opening up a computer company in Mobile, Alabama that specializes in building, repairing and customizing personal computers as well as printer repair, security camera installation, web design and system back-up and recovery. Carl and his brother have expanded their business and now have an office in Tallahassee, Florida. They are both certified Toshiba technicians.
- Daniel Lage of Coral Gables, Florida: Plans to attend Harvard University. After a complaint from his mother one summer that he had too many school textbooks lying around the house, Daniel decided to give back to his community by founding an E-business that sells textbooks called Book Express Miami. His company serves the needs of disadvantaged children in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood by collecting books and donations to help meet the educational needs of children most in need in his community.
- Trevor Shephard of Boise, Idaho: Plans to attend Boise State University. While participating in his high school's marketing club, Trevor wrote a fictional plan for a shaved ice business. After winning first place in both a state and national business competition, Trevor started his own seasonal summer shaved ice business called Super Shavers Sno Shack. This year, his company has grossed more than $12,000.
- Ian Stuart-Hoff of Mount Pleasant, Michigan: Plans to attend the University of Michigan. At the age of 13, Ian turned his juggling sticks hobby into a business selling them to friends, peers and family. During his first year of sales, he had a net income of more than $700. Called the Star Six Juggling Company, today his successful company has grown from selling its merchandise at local fairs and music festivals to countries worldwide, including Thailand and the United Kingdom.
This is the fourth straight year Visa USA has been the primary corporate sponsor of the NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation Young Entrepreneur Awards Program. Since 2003, the NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation has awarded 1,538 Young Entrepreneur Award Scholarships totaling $1.5 million. Earlier this year, Visa USA announced that they will also distribute a $300,000 grant to NFIB's Young Entrepreneur Foundation to be a co-presenting sponsor of NFIB YEF's innovative educational programs that aim to ignite the entrepreneurial spirit in students nationwide.
Last year, the National Federation of Independent Business' Young Entrepreneur Foundation, in partnership with Visa USA, announced a new online curriculum to teach budding entrepreneurs the basics of how to start a business. Teachers can download the free program from both Visa's Practical Money Skills for Life financial education program, www.practicalmoneyskills.com; and the NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation's Entrepreneur-in-the-Classroom programs, http://www.nfib.com/object/IO_27244.html.
Visa USA is a leading payments brand and the nation's largest payments system, enabling banks to provide their consumer and business customers with a wide variety of payment alternatives tailored to meet their evolving needs. Visa USA is committed to increasing the choice, convenience, acceptance and security of Visa payments for all stakeholders – financial institutions, cardholders and merchants. In the United States, more than 521 million Visa-branded cards have been issued by our 13,320 financial institution customers. Visa products generated nearly $1.8 trillion in total volume in the United States through March 2007 and enjoy unsurpassed acceptance around the globe. For more information, visit www.visa.com
The NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization promoting the importance of small business and free enterprise to the nation's youth. The Foundation is associated with the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the nation's leading small-business advocacy group. A nonprofit, nonpartisan organization founded in 1943, NFIB represents the consensus views of its members in Washington and all 50 state capitals. More information is available at www.NFIB.com/YEF.
For more information or to schedule an interview with a Visa USA spokesperson, please contact Steve Burke at 703-683-5004, ext. 108.
# # #