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NFIB and Visa Inc. Announce 2009 "Young Entrepreneur of the Year" Winner
Five Additional Teen Business Owners Capture National Award In Recognition of their Entrepreneurial Achievements
WASHINGTON, DC – June 25, 2009 – The 18-year-old owner of a student tutoring service in south Florida, Jay Shechtman of Weston, has been named the 2009 "Young Entrepreneur of the Year" by the National Federation of Independent Business and Visa Inc. Mr. Shechtman was chosen for this top honor from more than 6,000 nationwide candidates. In recognition of his achievements, Mr. Shechtman has been awarded a $10,000 educational scholarship to help defray the cost of his tuition at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.
Five additional students were named NFIB/Visa Inc. National Young Entrepreneur Award winners and will each receive a $5,000 educational scholarship. All six winners are being honored today at a special luncheon held at NFIB in Washington, D.C.
"Jay’s success demonstrates the opportunities young students have when they are willing to work hard toward their goals. His excitement about business and his dedication to education is an inspiration to the many students he has tutored through You Ask, We Tutor! The NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation, in collaboration with Visa, is pleased to recognize Jay along with all of the YEF scholarship winners, for their entrepreneurial accomplishments," said Don V. Cogman, chair, NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation Board of Directors.
Mr. Shechtman caught the entrepreneurial spirit in the fifth grade while watching his siblings tutor other children after school. This desire to help students succeed academically drove Mr. Shechtman to establish You Ask, We Tutor!, a student-run company which he started four years ago. Unlike other tutoring services, Mr. Shechtman employs only student tutors based on his belief that they can better connect with their peers.
Additionally, Mr. Shechtman’s company uses online capabilities to effectively cater to customers. Students can make appointments through a specialized online booking system which can be accessed at www.YouAskWeTutor.com. On the website, there are short bios of the tutors and their areas of expertise, as well as pricing information and testimonials. As a result of his company’s efforts, Mr. Shechtman reports that customers have experienced an over 90 percent improvement rate on test scores and in classroom performance. In the near future, You Ask, We Tutor! will be adding both SAT and ACT college preparatory test classes. Mr. Shechtman hopes to place a tutor in every school district across the country. He also wants to give back to the community someday by offering tutoring lessons free of charge.
"Visa congratulates Jay and all of this year’s National Young Entrepreneur Award winners for the passion, drive and commitment they have demonstrated to become successful, young business leaders," said Raghav Lal, Head of Global Small Business Products, Visa Inc. "Visa and NFIB have a longstanding and shared commitment to giving both entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs the tools and resources necessary to succeed. We are, once again, proud to be partners in this important effort."
Visa’s sponsorship of the NFIB Young Entrepreneur Awards program is part of its comprehensive Corporate Social Responsibility program, which focuses on bringing more people into the formal financial system through Visa’s payments expertise, historic commitment to financial literacy and focused philanthropic efforts. As part of these efforts, Visa supports the important role that entrepreneurs play in creating opportunities for others while helping communities achieve greater prosperity and self-sufficiency.
"I want to thank both NFIB and Visa for their support and generous contribution to help me further my education," said Mr. Shechtman. "Starting and running a business is hard work, but rewarding in many ways. My hope is that my story will serve as an inspiration to other young people who are going into business for themselves. I was able to turn a vision of mine into reality by believing in myself and my idea, and by not listening to those who said it couldn't be done. You never know if what you are doing is going to work, but I guarantee you that it won't if you don't try."
The NFIB/Visa Inc. "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.
The five other winners of the NFIB/Visa Inc. National Young Entrepreneur Award will each receive a $5,000 scholarship. They are:
- Edward J. Kramer III of Lakewood, Ohio: Mr. Kramer runs a landscaping business with his friend Dan called E&D’s Lawncare which he started when he was in sixth grade. With the help of an aggressive leaflet advertising campaign, E&D’s Lawncare has grown from 5 weekly customers at inception to 25 weekly customers today.
- Ilan Regenbaum of Dunwoody, Georgia: Mr. Regenbaum is the founder of Flash Foto Events, a metro Atlanta photography service which specializes in event, portrait and sports photography. He started his company at the age of 13 and has grown the enterprise by using cutting edge digital software called Express Digital Darkroom and expanding the scope of his business to include youth sports league photography.
- Seth Pippin of Lee’s Summit, Missouri: Mr. Pippin runs Pippin Internet Solutions, a website and Internet marketing service designed to help small businesses grow by giving them an online presence and visibility. As testament to his company’s success, Mr. Pippin helped design a site for a concrete countertop contractor that generated a sale of $6,000 within one month of inception.
- Jennifer Goebel of Plano, Texas: In 2007, Ms. Goebel established All-American Dance Company, which provides dance classes to students at private learning centers. This arrangement gives parents the flexibility and convenience by reducing drive time to separate dance facilities. Ms. Goebel’s company continues to grow, and she began this fiscal year with a profit.
- Rachel Kenley of Palmer, Alaska: Ms. Kenley runs Kenley’s Alaskan Vegetables and Flowers, a business which she started in 2001 as a subscription vegetable service. In seven years, her business’ customer base grew from 16 to 30 people. In 2008, Ms. Kenley merged her company with her mother’s produce business and now Kenley’s Alaskan Vegetables and Flowers grows and sells a large variety of vegetables, as well as cut flowers and arrangements for residents of Alaska’s Matanuska Valley.
This is the sixth consecutive year Visa 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 2,120 Young Entrepreneur Award Scholarships valued at $2,731,000.
The National Federation of Independent Business Young Entrepreneur Foundation, in partnership with Visa, also manages an online curriculum to teach budding entrepreneurs the basics of how to start a business. Teachers can download the free program from 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 www.NFIB.com/EITC.
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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. More information is available at www.NFIB.com/YEF. The Foundation is associated with the National Federation of Independent Business; NFIB is the nation's leading small business association, with offices in Washington, D.C. and all 50 state capitals. Founded in 1943 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, NFIB gives small and independent business owners a voice in shaping the public policy issues that affect their business. NFIB's powerful network of grassroots activists sends their views directly to state and federal lawmakers through our unique member–only ballot, thus playing a critical role in supporting America's free enterprise system.
Visa operates the world's largest retail electronic payments network providing processing services and payment product platforms. This includes consumer credit, debit, prepaid and commercial payments, which are offered under the Visa, Visa Electron, Interlink and PLUS brands. Visa enjoys unsurpassed acceptance around the world and Visa/PLUS is one of the world's largest global ATM networks, offering cash access in local currency in more than 170 countries. For more information, visit www.visa.com
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