Entrepreneurship Challenge Sparks Creativity in Students

January 2018

Three girls with a passion for dance, yoga and twirling gave a successful pitch to a group of business executives and left the 7th Annual Entrepreneurship High School Challenge in first place with $1,000 in their pockets.


Jillian Crosby, Alexandra Tomodan and Lola Torres of Barron G. Collier High School in Naples, Florida, inspired by their own passions, began DBG Academy. The academy offers classes in dance, fitness, baton and guard.

Crosby, CEO and dance instructor, holds 16 years of dance experience; Torres, CMO and baton instructor, has six years of twirling experience; and Tomodan, CFO and COO, is certified in QuickBooks and Photoshop.

“Because I’ve always been business inclined, I always wanted to be my own manager, my own boss,” said Crosby. “I thought it would be great to open my own studio, do something I love and have a job that pays me for it.”

Hosted by the Rinker School of Business, teams consisting of up to three members come up with a business name, goals, costs and values. Thirty-five teams total took part in the challenge. In the first round, teams presented to judges consisting of faculty, staff and students. During the second round of the competition, five finalists presented to a panel of local business executives.

Taking second place with a $500 prize was a group of girls from The Kings Academy for their business called, Blushie Box, a cosmetic subscription package.

The third place winners receiving $250 were two girls from Spanish River Community High School for their business, Teach Tech, a not-for-profit service teaching senior citizens all things technical. They took home a check for $250.

Jaime Verd, operations manager at Olympusat, gave the keynote address during the competition. The Dominican Republic native graduated from PBA in 2014 with a degree in finance.

Verd gave the students three lessons to take with them as they embark on their entrepreneurship journey. He advised the students to know that their journey is the reward, failure does not exist, and that their idea is important but the team behind the idea is more important.

Serving as judges during the competition was Scott Crawford, business manager for Family Church; Jim Dullum, senior partner with Fieldstone Equity; Putnam Kling, president and co-founder of Enhance Advisors; Tom Leonard, VP, relationship manager for TD Wealth; John Patten, VP relationship manager for TD Wealth; Tim Sotos, chairman of the board, president and CEO of Clinical Reference Laboratory Inc. and PBA trustee member; and Misty Travani, partner with Travani & Richter.

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