Our ProgramsBusiness Boot Camps, Business Academy & Business Plan Competitions
Welcome to Project ECHO’s High School Entrepreneurs’ Program
Now enrolling high schools, clubs and after-school programs
Project ECHO provides an invigorating environment for high school students to learn about entrepreneurship through an innovative program that combines business fundamentals, mentoring, college field trips and activity-based learning. It’s successful because of our collaborative approach to working with high schools, school clubs and after-school programs allowing teachers (and club facilitators) to take the lead and teach the program to their students in their classrooms. It’s the perfect add-on to an existing class or club where the teacher would like to incorporate activity-based learning with an awesome capstone project.
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We begin each academic year by partnering with school administrators, teachers, club facilitators and after school program directors to offer students a comprehensive model in entrepreneurship, from ideation to pitch. Each program year is launched at our High School Entrepreneurs’ Business Boot Camps , which are hosted at UCLA Anderson School of Management and Loyola Marymount University. Students come together and start to learn some fundamentals about creating a business and start to brainstorm and ideate their own business ideas. Students work together throughout the boot camp events and will begin to form their business teams. There are two Boot Camps that generally take place in the Fall, which covers the topics of ideation, marketing, finance, and pitch. Volunteer mentors assist teachers and students throughout the program year.
Teachers and club/program directors will generally begin teaching Launching ECHO the official curriculum portion of the program in January. This curriculum teaches students important skills in research, mathematics, economics, business, communications, and teamwork all while learning how to create, develop and pitch a new business. Project ECHO is intended to be an add-on activity within a class or club and will generally take one hour of leadership instruction per week, over a 10 to 12 week period. Within this time frame, students will have about one to three hours of independent or team-based homework per week. Throughout the semester, students will work in teams to create a business idea, research the market, and write a business plan with the support of their teachers or club leaders and Project ECHO volunteer business coaches/mentors.
The program culminates in the spring with a formal business plan competition. Student teams from dozens of schools across Southern California and beyond join us at UCLA Anderson School of Management to compete on stage in front of hundreds of guests, teachers, peers and judges. Executive level volunteer judges are recruited to evaluate team presentations and written business plans. Start-up funds are awarded to the winning teams.
High School Entrepreneurs’
2019-2020 Event Dates:
Due to the coronavirus, Project ECHO has postponed and transitioned its 2020 Business Plan Competition to an on-line event scheduled for May 31, 2020.
Event dates are tentative until confirmed.
High School Entrepreneurs Business’ Boot Camp #1: Friday, October 18, 2019
Introduction to Ideation: Coming up with Solution-Based and Innovative Ideas
Introduction to Marketing: An Action Plan for Success
High School Entrepreneurs Business Boot Camp #2: Friday, January 31, 2020
The Bottom Line of Business Finance: An introduction to Business Finance
Nervous About Presenting? An Introduction to Public Speaking
The Elevator-Pitch Contest
High School Entrepreneurs Mega Mentor Day: Friday, February 7, 2020 (and/or 3.13.20)
Bring your plan and your pitch and work with a mentor to gain final feedback and presentation practice before the competition!
High School Entrepreneurs Finals Business Plan Competition: Sunday, May 31, 2020 via Zoom.com
ECHO’s capstone event invites all of our high school business teams to compete in a formal business plan competition. Written business plans and formal presentations are evaluated, with the highest scoring teams winning cash prizes. Teams will be required to join a Zoom video conference and present their business plans while sharing their slide decks with the judges.
High School Entrepreneur's Business Boot CampsIntroducing Students to Project ECHO & Entrepreneurship
Project ECHO’s High School Entrepreneurs Business Boot Camps launch the program year in the Fall. Taught by entrepreneurs, business executives and industry leaders, the Boot Camps are an integral part of the ECHO program and serves as a starting point for students to initiate their business ideas and supports the formal entrepreneurial curriculum taught in the Spring. There are two Boot Camps and session one covers ideation and marketing and session two covers finance and pitch. Throughout the morning-long events, program mentors help facilitate small group discussions among the teens and provide mentorship to help students complete preliminary exercises. The goal of Boot Camp is to help students from the same high school form initial business teams, commit to a business idea, and introduce students to initial business concepts.
Teacher Boot Camp
As new schools enroll in Project ECHO, our Teacher Boot Camp offers new teachers and school administrators the opportunity to learn about the program and the formal entrepreneurship curriculum. Taught by experienced ECHO teachers who have risen to master teacher status, the Teacher Boot Camp breaks down the curriculum by chapter, and offers best practices in teaching the curriculum. It’s an open forum for teachers to share their experiences, get great ideas from each other and network while their students are attending the Entrepreneurs’ Boot Camp #1 in October.
High School Entrepreneur's Business AcademyA Semester-Long Experience That Changes Academic Paths
Activity-Based Entrepreneurship Program Coupled with a Curriculum
Project ECHO’s High School Entrepreneur’s Business Academy is a semester long class that combines hands on activities coupled with a formal curriculum to help students learn the fundamentals of creating a business. ECHO gives each school the latitude to implement the program anyway it chooses; from a formal class to an after school club, there is no right or wrong way to teach the program.
The formal curriculum teaches:
- Introduction to business plans
- Ideation and creating a business description
- Completing an industry and market analysis
- Developing a marketing plan
- Constructing an operations plan
- Identifying the management team and creating an organizational structure complete with titles and reporting relationships
- Creating a financial and funding plan, which also includes learning about financial reporting and how to read financial statements.
- Excel, Microsoft Word and PowerPoint
The informal curriculum teaches:
- Team work
- Interpersonal communication
- Business etiquette
- How to network in social settings
- Dress for success
- Time management
This interactive program is designed to introduce teens to relevant business school fields of study. It’s intended to help prepare students to graduate from high school motivated to enter a two- or four-year college or university, vocational training or an apprenticeship.
Professionals and Graduate School Mentors Sets ECHO Apart from Other Programs
Project ECHO recruits stellar program mentors from local Rotary Clubs along with graduate students from local universities to provide high school students the best mentorship available. Mentors will generally interact with teachers and their students on a weekly basis via a Skype conference call or by visiting the classroom. This effort is to provide the high school student teams one-on-one guidance and support. Research has identified that most of our high school students live in single parent homes, or in homes where both parents work varied work schedules including evening and weekend shifts. Mentors offer personal, career and technical support that may be absent or unavailable in their homes.
The High School Entrepreneur’s Business Plan Competition
The program culminates in the spring with a formal business plan competition that considers both the written business plan along with the oral presentation. The event day competition is intended to simulate the real-world process of entrepreneurs soliciting start-up funds from early-stage investors and venture capital firms. The judges function as venture capital investors deciding on which business venture they would most likely fund. The quality of the idea, the strength of the management team, and the clarity and persuasiveness of the written plan and oral presentation, all influence the judges’ decisions. Ultimately, the winning teams are selected based on where the judges would most likely invest their money.
The Categories of Competition for the 2020 Competition are:
Technology Platforms and Services:
- Includes businesses selling services and technologies that deliver a service. A physical item is not being sold, but instead a service is given to the customer either in person or through an online platform (like a website or software program or app). Examples of companies that fall into this category include an online design company, a mobile barbershop, an app that connects dog walkers to customers, a non-profit financial literacy center, a company that teaches music skills, an oil service that comes to your home, a social media platform for gun safety conversations, or a language learning app.
Consumer Products and Hardware:
- Includes physical products being sold to consumers (that are not related to hospitality and entertainment). This includes common consumer products (everyday items) as well as technology hardware devices. Examples of companies that fall into this category include a sports shoes business, a germ-repelling phone case, a men’s soap and hair care line, a device to recycle plastics, a smart water bottle company, a breathalyzer device, or a medical device company.
Hospitality and Entertainment:
- Includes businesses that relate to dining (food), entertainment activities and experiences, and any type of recreational gaming, either online or in person. Examples of companies that fall into this category include customizable gaming computers, a game controller, applications for a shopping experience, a new sushi restaurant, a bagel shop, commercial kitchen workplace leasing, or a café for high school students.
The High School Entrepreneurs' Business Plan CompetitionEvery Team Wins - But a Few Walk Away With Start-Up Funds
Watch the winning presentations from previous competitions here!
Team SIMPLY PILL from St. John Bosco High School Wins the 2019 High School Entrepreneurs’ Business Plan Competition!
Project ECHO is proud to announce that the business team Simply Pill from St. John Bosco High School won the 2019 High School Entrepreneurs’ Business Plan Competition. Simply Pill offered an innovative idea combined with an extremely well written and thorough business plan and interesting team presentation. Congratulations to this team of seniors from St. John Bosco who have competed in ECHO’s competition for the last three years. Simply Pill walked away with a $1,000 check.
Watch their winning pitch by clicking their photo to the left.
Branded from Charter Oak High School Wins the 2018 High School Entrepreneurs Business Plan Competition!
Branded, a spirit wear and accessory company from Charter Oak High School, won Project ECHO’s 2018 High School Entrepreneurs’ Business Plan Competition. This team’s combined scores from their written business plan and their presentation score ranked the highest out of 51 teams competing in the 14th Annual Competition. In addition, this team actually launched their business in the Winter, garnering additional applause from the judges. The team wore their clothing line during the competition, and passed around water bottles and apparel to demonstrate the quality of their products. Their full line includes everything from outer wear, clothing, water bottles to face tattoos. You can check out their full store here: https://www.cohsbranded.com. This team earned $1,000 in cash start-up funds, a trophy and they/ve certainly helped Charter Oak earn bragging rights, with the school winning two years in a row. Special congratulations to their teacher, Camille Strycula, who also was awarded the Chip Goodman Entrepreneurial Teacher of the Year.
To watch the winning team video, please click on the photo to the left.
Vie Health WINS THE 2017 HIGH SCHOOL ENTREPRENEUR’S BUSINESS PLAN COMPETITION!
Vie Health took home the grand prize and won the Overall Competition at the 13th annual Project ECHO Business Plan Competition. This team of seniors and one junior attend Charter Oak High School in Covina. Vie Health’s combined scores from their written business plan and their presentation score ranked the highest out of 55 teams competing. This awesome quartet was truly surprised when their name was announced, and they earned $1,000 cash start-up funds, a trophy and they/ve certainly worked hard for some major bragging rights! Congrats Vie Health!
To watch the winning team video, please click on the photo to the left.
WaterWise WINS THE 2016 HIGH SCHOOL ENTREPRENEUR’S BUSINESS PLAN COMPETITION!
Congratulations to WaterWise, a team of 9th graders from Long Beach Polytechnic High School-PACE Academy for winning the 12th Annual High School Entrepreneur’s Business Plan Competition. Water Wise’s combined scores from their written business plan and their presentation score ranked the highest out of 110 teams competing. They walked away with $1,000 cash start-up funds, a lovely trophy and bragging rights for the year!
FIL WINS THE 2015 HIGH SCHOOL ENTREPRENEUR’S BUSINESS PLAN COMPETITION!
Congratulations to Team Fil from Banning High, who were announced as the 2015 Overall Competition Winners at the High School Entrepreneur’s Business Plan Competition. This annual event that took place at UCLA Anderson School of Management received competition submissions from more than 100 teams and 500 students. Team Fil’s combined scores from their written business plan and their presentation score ranked the highest at the end of the competition awarding them $1,000 cash, a beautiful trophy and they’ll be featured on Business Rock Stars, a nationally syndicated radio program. Project ECHO is extremely proud of this amazing team of seniors. Congratulations!
GIFTSWAP WINS THE 2014 HIGH SCHOOL ENTREPRENEUR’S BUSINESS PLAN COMPETITION!
Team GIFTSWAP from Long Beach Polytechnic High School was awarded the Overall Competition Winner at the 2014 competition and walked away with a $1,000 check. This winning team received the highest score at the end of the competition which evaluated both a written business plan and an oral presentation that utilized a visual presentation to support their remarks.
Check out their full pitch and presentation by clicking on their photo to the left!
Team RIPPED Wins the 2013 High School Entrepreneur’s Business Plan Competition!
Project ECHO awarded RIPPED the Overall Competition Winners at the 2013 High School Entrepreneur’s Business Plan Competition. This team’s written business plan combined with a stellar presentation scored them the highest marks by the end of the competition. For their hard work, RIPPED walked away with a $1,000 check. The RIPPED team are comprised of 9th graders attending Long Beach Polytechnic High School.
Watch their winning pitch by clicking their photo to the left.