Invest 606 hoping to ‘Do Good’ with high school entrepreneur pitch program
PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - A new pitch program hopes to serve as a pipeline for future entrepreneurs.
Ryan Jones, founder of Do Good Brands, is working with Invest 606 Founder Dr. Geoff Marietta for a new program to get students in the 606 in the entrepreneur mindset.
Jones, co-owner of Lincoln Road Roastery and Lincoln Road Coffee Lounge, brewed up a new plan with his newest company Do Good Brands. The mission is to work with businesses and organizations to develop, consult, train, campaign, and market them toward success. He said the idea is to help each of them on the path to “do good” in whatever realm they specialize.
Marietta, who is also co-owner of Kentucky Moonbow and its brands, said his passion is in that same realm, helping businesses and organizations thrive.
“There’s just so much entrepreneurial talent in the region and there aren’t enough opportunities,” said Marietta.
He said that is why Invest 606 works to celebrate new and existing companies through its Pitch Competition. After conversations about K-12 education and the younger generation, though, he and his partners wanted to find a way to get them involved. So, working with University of the Cumberlands and the Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs, Invest 606 and Do Good Brands created a new project.
The new initiative, “Starter Labs,” is taking a page from the Invest 606 Pitch Contest by launching a high school pitch competition, asking students to engage in the process by coming up with business ideas, pitching them to the program, and discovering the entire process that comes with being a business owner or building a brand.
Jones said it is about planting the seeds and showing the students what it possible and allowing them to create a potential platform for doing good things their own way.
“It’s really rewarding. You can hire people in your community. You can do good things for your community, elevate your community,” he said.
The program invites high school students or teams of students in the 606 area code to complete an online application and a 60 second pitch video to pitch their idea to Invest 606 and Do Good Brands.
“We need to get it right and we need to invest in our youth and we need to invest in ensuring that they have the skills to jump right in to a diversifying economy,” said Marietta.
Business pitch ideas will then be evaluated by a selection committee, based on presentation and style, problem and solution, customer identification, and pathway to market.
“Entrepreneurship is a career pathway. And we hope that more young folks or more students will realize that once you graduate high school or once you graduate college, you could look at entrepreneurship as a career path,” said Jones. “You could be your own boss. You don’t have to graduate and go work for someone. If you have a unique solution and a customer- that’s the most important part, right, is a customer that’s gonna pay for the problem that you’re solving.”
From those, around 20 ideas will move on to the next round and be presented in a livestream event- during which the winners will be announced.
The program will give the students access to business builders and leaders in their communities, but one of the larger goals is to “ignite the entrepreneurial mindset and encourage more students to apply to the Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs.”
“We’re creating a direct pipeline for more students in Eastern Kentucky to be exposed to the Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs,” Jones said. “We realized that there was a lack of participation in Eastern Kentucky, especially in the far east. So we’re trying to solve that problem and get more students involved in more entrepreneur activities. To help them realize that it is a career.”
Prize money will be awarded. First place will receive $1,000, second will receive $500, and third will take home $250. Those funds will be split evenly among team members. One team from every school that submits an application will win at least $50.
Submissions are due by December 10 by 11:59 p.m. and the livestream will take place December 14 at 7 p.m.
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