Young entrepreneurs: Routt County CEO class to host 2nd annual Trade Show | SteamboatToday.com

Young entrepreneurs: Routt County CEO class to host 2nd annual Trade Show

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — You gotta love folks with entrepreneurial spirit. After all, billionaire Sheldon Adelson started by selling newspapers, and billionaire John Paul DeJoria of the famed Paul Mitchell hair products sold Christmas cards and lived in his car.

That gives folks like Hayden's Isaiah DeJesus hope after he started selling baked goods from his locker at Hayden High School.

"I made $125 dollars before I got shut down," said DeJesus, who was trying to raise money to help fund his little sister's trip to Spain.

DeJesus and six other teenage entrepreneurs will get the chance to showcase their goods and services at their own trade show May 23, after spending the school year under the tutelage of Routt County CEO – a program that prepares youth to become entrepreneurs and leaders in economic development. CEO stands for Creating Entrepreneurial Activities.

"I'll have my whole menu ready to go and available for purchase," said DeJesus, who already has big plans to build his "Shalom Bakery" food truck this summer.

He hopes to take the food truck to Grand Junction and stay in business while he attends Colorado Mesa University.

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Retired executive Rich Lowe guided the CEO class through several major tasks throughout the school year, supplemented by numerous lectures and visits to some of the Yampa Valley's most successful businesses.

The first task was going out and selling sponsorships.

"The hardest thing to do is ask people for money," said Joshua Taing of Oak Creek High School.

Fellow CEO classmates said Taing has come the furthest as far as dealing with the public.

"I've just been secluded in South Routt … in a little bubble, but through the CEO program, I've been able to expand my views greatly," Taing said.

Taing started "Integrity Errands" as his business, an idea he said would likely take off in a tourist town like Steamboat Springs but maybe not so much in Oak Creek where he lives.

"This is a lesson learned, but now, I know how to start up my own business," he said.

Of course, it took a lot of class hours and a school year of hands-on planning.

The CEO class' second task was building a business as a team. This year, they chose to do a recreational-themed film festival.

"They had to come up with the business plan, market it, promote it and get people to come," said Lowe, who spent decades working his way up to CEO of xpedx — a division of International Paper — before retiring.

"The film festival raised $2,500 for Routt County Rescue," Lowe said.

That's when it all came together for Steamboat Springs High School student Theo Hansen.

"After seeing this success, I knew I was capable of doing things, and it boosted me into the rest of the semester," said the senior, who plans to sell portable rails and boxes that skiers can use anywhere.

In the meantime, the crack of a bullwhip could be heard several blocks away as Colter Christensen played with his creation outside of the Yampa Valley High School on Seventh Street.

Anyone interested in handmade "paracord" bullwhips might want to get to the May 23 trade show early to snap one up, because Christensen sees his CEO experience going in a different direction.

"School is coming to an end, so at this point I'm kind of thinking I'm not going to continue the bullwhip business after the trade show," Christensen said.

But like the other six students, Christensen said the CEO experience was something he'll use for the rest of his life.

See accompanying Q&A to learn about all the vendors at this year's Routt County CEO Trade Show, which will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. May 23 at Bud Werner Memorial Library's Library Hall.

Students interested in the Routt County CEO class can go online at routtcountyceo.org.

The organization is looking for work ethic, dependability and trustworthiness. Grades are not considered and the application is presented before a "blind" committee so that the applicants are not known.

Q. and A. with the CEO Class of 2018

Jason Oehme

Jason Oehme, Steamboat Springs High School senior

What is your business plan?

My business is Steamboat Pride, an athletic T-shirt apparel company based around Steamboat sports. My shirts have a unique design, which I hope will appeal to a variety of sports participants in Steamboat.

What inspired the idea?

I was inspired to start this business by my love of sports and creating. I was also inspired by my cousin, as he started in apparel company while he was in high school in Michigan. Steamboat Pride shirts will also provide an avenue for enthusiasts to show their pride for their sport.

How would you describe the need for this business, and why should people support it?

My company will provide unique custom designed shirts for locals to support their favorite Steamboat sport. By buying these shirts, people will further their support for the community and their respected sports.

What has been/will be your biggest obstacle for getting this idea off the ground?

My biggest challenge with creating this business has been finding the most cost-effective way to produce the shirts and where that was going to take place.

What is the most interesting thing you've learned as part of the CEO class?

Being a part of the CEO class has taught me how to work with other people's strengths and weaknesses. I have also become a much better communicator through this class as we are consistently talking to business leaders throughout the community.

Hayden Entress

Hayden Entress, Yampa Valley High School senior

What is your business?

For my business, I created a cookbook, "Nothing Beats Healthy Treats." It has 23 healthy gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free and refined sugar dessert recipes. I was inspired to make this cookbook mostly because I am allergic to gluten, dairy and soy, and I know a lot of people who are too.

What inspired the idea?

I wanted to create real, wholesome and healthy treats and share them with others. But my inspiration also came from my love for baking. I follow lots of healthy cooking blogs, and I thought to myself, why can't I create my own recipes? I think that when some people hear "gluten free" or "healthy," they immediately think that it is not going to be yummy. And if they aren't allergic to gluten or dairy, they completely overlook the option. But the treats in my cookbook aren't just for people with allergies, they are for everyone. My recipes are made from real, simple ingredients full of nutrients, unlike many of the other over processed baking ingredients that are more commonly used, which can irritate our bodies.

How would you describe the need for this business, and why should people support it?

I am hoping that this book will prove that healthy treats are still delicious. I am hoping "Nothing Beats Healthy Treats" will appeal to our community, because most people here in Steamboat are active and want to make healthy choices.

What has been/will be your biggest obstacle for getting this idea off the ground?

My biggest challenge with creating this cookbook has probably been the technical, computer aspect. Learning how to use book templates and edit each page on my computer has definitely been a challenge. But, thankfully I have had many people who have generously given their time and expertise to help me be able to create the book.

What is the most interesting thing you've learned as part of the CEO class?

CEO has taught me that at the end of the day, if you want something bad enough, you’re passionate about it, and you’re willing to work hard for it, anything is possible, no matter how crazy your idea might be. I have learned how to find and utilize the many resources throughout our community. That is what enabled me to create "Nothing Beats Healthy Treats." This class has helped me gain the confidence and mindset that I will need throughout my life in order to not put limits on what I can do.

Colter Christensen

Colter Christensen, Yampa Valley High School junior

What is your business?

My business is creating light durable paracord bull whips that are used by ranchers.

What inspired the idea for your business?

I have always loved making whips and using them. They are fun to make and even more fun to play with.

How would you describe the need for this business, and why should people support it?

My whips are unique because I make them with strong paracord material. Paracord is very light, which makes it easy to use. Also, Steamboat being rooted in a ranching community I felt it fitting to start this business.

What has been/will be your biggest obstacle for getting this idea off the ground?

Production will be my biggest obstacle, because these whips are made by hand and are very time consuming to make.

What is the most interesting thing you have learned as part of the CEO class?

The most interesting thing I have learned from the CEO experience is how much it costs to run a full-time business. I never would have thought it took so much money to get a business started let alone running one.

Joshua Taing

Joshua Taing, Soroco High School junior

What is your business?

My business is an errand running business.

What inspired the idea for your business?

I was inspired to make an errand business because I enjoy helping people.

How would you describe the need for this business, and why should people support it?

People need an errand running business so they can be more efficient at work or to be able to more fully enjoy their time off from work. I will not be continuing my business past the CEO program.

What has been/will be your biggest obstacle for getting this idea off the ground?

The biggest obstacle I faced was trying to come to a decision on just what type of business I should pursue.

What is the most interesting thing you have learned as part of the CEO class?

The most interesting thing I have learned in the CEO program is networking and how important it is in business.

Theo Hansen

Theo Hansen, Steamboat Springs High School senior

What is your business?

My business consists of making an assortment of different rails and boxes for skiing out of materials such as PVC pipe, wood and different metals. These rails and boxes can easily be set up in your backyard because they are designed to be portable.

What inspired the idea for your business?

I have skied my entire life and fell in love with freestyle skiing when I was around 10. I wanted to get better and turned to my backyard looking for little jibs and objects to hit but nothing stood up against the constant battering. To end this constant patchwork shenanigans, I built a rail with a friend, and it has stood the course of time thus far.

How would you describe the need for this business, and why should people support it?

This business is crucial for young skiers since it creates an outlet for their skills to be improved and for them to better their skiing ability. Along with that it helps skiers stay away from breaking laws related to urban setups by them creating their own "terrain park" wherever they want.

What has been/will be your biggest obstacle for getting this idea off the ground?

The biggest obstacle thus far has been putting my ideas into fruition. It is hard discussing such a newer brand of skiing with investors since not many people are accustomed to the knowledge that surrounds this type of skiing.

What is the most interesting thing you have learned as part of the CEO class?

The most interesting thing I have learned thus far through the CEO class is that even though I am in high school I am still able to create a successful business and feel that I am ready for life in the real world.

Isaiah De Jesus

Isaiah DeJesus, Hayden High School senior

What is your business?

Shalom's Bakery On Wheels.

What inspired the idea for your business?

My mom worked in a bakery when I was a kid, and she made cakes at home for her friend. I helped her make them, and that’s where my love for baking came from.

How would you describe the need for this business, and why should people support it?

There is a great need for food trucks in Colorado. It is a great business to get into and you can only find them in the big city, and my plan is to bring that experience to small towns.

What has been/will be your biggest obstacle for getting this idea off the ground?

Figuring out wattage for my food truck.

What is the most interesting thing you have learned as part of the CEO class?

How to make a proper business plan and networking.

Maria Santiago

Maria Santiago, Steamboat Springs High School senior

What is your business?

My business is a service business called STRIVE Communication for ELL (English language learners) students.

What inspired the idea for your business?

Having been an ELL student and having gotten the chance to help other ELL students, I understand how stressful it is when you can't communicate with others.

How would you describe the need for this business, and why should people support it?

There is a lack of interpreters/specialists at the high school, and as of this year, there already are a over 250 students in the ELL program. It could be very costly to the school to hire more specialists, but it can be easily fixed when people consider that there are bilingual students that don't take advantage of their ability.

What has been/will be your biggest obstacle for getting this idea off the ground?

Getting grants for the program.

What is the most interesting thing you have learned as part of the CEO class?

The most interesting thing I have learned from the CEO program is that speaking to adults isn't as scary as it seems.

Routt County CEO Class Board of Directors:

Ed MacArthur, board chair, Native Excavating

Tracey Epley, State of Co. 14th Judicial District

Roger Good, retired executive

Marty Lamansky, Steamboat Springs School District

Rich Lowe, retired executive

Paul McCarty, Northwest Colorado BOCES

Pam Palmquist, THPK

Tara Weaver, Central Park Management

Karen Wolters, Wolters-Althoff Investments