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Team Elix Incubator

Diamond Challenge winners

High school entrepreneurs honored at YES! event

University of Delaware Horn Program in Entrepreneurship announced the winners of this year’s Diamond Challenge at the Youth Entrepreneurship Summit (YES!) on Friday, April 7, in Clayton Hall.

The Diamond Challenge is an international competition specifically for high school students that teaches participants about entrepreneurship while also allowing them to put their ideas into action. The final round of this competition was held during YES!, with nearly 400 young entrepreneurs and educators in attendance.

“It’s a great honor to be involved with the impressive student teams coming through to these final stages of the Diamond Challenge and YES! Every edition seems to bring more innovation, diversity and overall fun,” said Julie Frieswyk, manager of youth initiatives at Horn Entrepreneurship. “The world ahead of us is so uncertain. Now is the time to empower these young people through entrepreneurship education to be the creators of their futures.”

This year’s semifinalists came from 11 countries and eight states, all of which gathered in Clayton Hall Thursday, April 6, for the semifinal round, and again Friday, April 7, where six finalists pitched their ideas and answered questions from a panel of judges.

The winners from the business concept track, which focuses on the development and validation of new business models for generating revenue and profit, were Boltbot of St. Andrew, Jamaica, and PromElle of Saratoga, California, who tied for second place, and AcoustiGLASS of Medina, Ohio, in first place.

AcoustiGLASS, which is wearable acoustic object recognition system designed to increase awareness of the surrounding environment, was developed by brothers, Kei and Kotaro Kojima. The brothers said that placing first was “surreal” and that their biggest takeaway from participating in YES! and the Diamond Challenge was making sure you integrate your passions into your work.

The social venture track, which focuses on the development of new, social impact models, had AutumnLeaf Fundraisers of Landenberg, Pennsylvania, in third place, Voluntu of Medina, Ohio, in second place and Elix Incubator of San Anselmo, California, taking first place.

Elix Incubator is a social impact incubator for teen social entrepreneurs that provides services and education on developing business in a sustainable way. This team is made up high school juniors Haley Catton, Isabella Liu, Stash Pomichter and Andrew Yates.

Not only did the Elix Incubator team appreciate placing first in the competition, but also the networking opportunities that came along with YES! and the Diamond Challenge.

“We actually had a team from Moldova ask if they can apply to our incubator, and we’re really excited about the opportunity to expand internationally,” said Catton.

Participants competed for winnings from a total prize pool of $100,000 with first place packages including $11,000 in prizes, among them Microsoft Surface 3 tablets.

Before winners were announced, Diamond Challenge finalists spent the day at YES!, a conference for high school students that features interactive workshops, engaging speakers and networking opportunities.

Students had the opportunity to attend workshops on a variety of topics, including creativity and mindfulness, as well as hear from keynote speakers Haile Thomas and Justin Lafazan, who also served as judges for the Diamond Challenge.

Thomas is a 16-year-old youth activist, motivational speaker, teen vegan chef, the youngest Certified Health Coach trained at the institute for Integrative Nutrition and the founder and CEO of the HAPPY organization. HAPPY addresses the need for free or low cost nutrition and culinary education for young people in underserved areas.

Lafazan is a 20-year-old who attends the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Before attending college, he founded Students4Students College Advisory, a higher education consulting form, and Millennial Marketing Strategy, a full-service digital marketing company. He now dedicates his time to the Next Gen Summit and launching Next Gen Ventures.

“I am amazed and impressed and blown away by the quality of thought and the caliber of every young person here, how talented and ambitious and driven they are,” said Lafazan. “It just shows me that this next generation-- we’ve got it covered, we’re going to do some amazing things.”

YES! and the Diamond Challenge are part of the Paul and Linda McConnell Youth Entrepreneurship Education Initiative. Since its foundation in 2012, the Diamond Challenge has reached more than 3,500 students from 155 schools worldwide and has recently been ranked one of the top 29 best international business plan competitions by Alpha Gamma, a business portal for millennials.

Capital One supports this program as part of its Future Edge initiative, a five-year $150 million initiative designed to help people get the skills they need to be competitive in this digital economy.

About the Horn Program in Entrepreneurship

The Horn Program in Entrepreneurship ignites imaginations and empowers world changers through educational offerings that emphasize experiential learning, evidence-based entrepreneurship and active engagement with entrepreneurs and other members of the broader entrepreneurial ecosystem. Through participation in Horn Program offerings, students gain the knowledge, skills, personal capacities, experiences, connections and access to resources needed to successfully manifest innovation and thrive in the rapidly changing world.  


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