Sunday, May 29 , 2016, 3:30 am | Fog/Mist 58º

Santa Barbara High’s Dons Net Café Earns 1st Place in National Business Plan Competition

Touting Design-N-Cut products, team named best in class of 1,300 at Bay Area Entrepreneuriship Conference

By Estevana Arroyo for Dons Net Café |

Sixteen students from the Dons Net Café at Santa Barbara High School brought home the big win at the Bay Area Entrepreneurship Conference and Virtual Enterprises International Trade Show in Oakland last week. They were judged first in the Sustainable Business Plan category, competing against 1,300 high school students who traveled from across the nation to attend the conference at the Oakland Marriott City Center.

Over the course of three days, the Santa Barbara High team, along with their counterparts at Dos Pueblos and San Marcos high schools, made their presentations, went sight-seeing and dined in San Francisco’s famous Chinatown. San Marcos earned eighth place in the Elevator Pitch category and honorable mention in the Speed Interview and the Sustainable Business Plan categories.

The Dons Net Café Business Plan team was headed by Jesus Terrazas, Linda Arellano, Amazing Grace Llanos, Alex Gazga, Jordan Anguiano and Hector Avila.

“We have presented our Design-N-Cut product line before,” Terrazas said. “What was different this year is that our presentation focused on our target markets and our ‘Business in a Box’ idea, which will help other schools to implement this successful program on their campuses.

“We worked really hard for three months and were mentored by SCORE volunteers, Montecito Bank & Trust, Athens Capital and Teddy Ho. Obviously, they mentored us well!”

DNC teacher and leader Lee “Mrs. B” Knodel plans to use the $1,000 prize money to buy a portable vinyl cutter that will enable the students to take it with them to fairs and local events. She will use the rest of the money to underwrite a trip to Los Angeles to make a presentation before the management of TOMS shoes during spring break.

Design-n-Cut is a student-run enterprise specializing in custom designed T-shirts, hoodies, socks and other products. It is an integral part of the Dons Net Café, which promotes social entrepreneurism and good business skills. Winning the San Francisco business plan grand prize will certainly give these budding entrepreneurs a shot in the arm.

The Dons Net Café-School of Business, a Regional Occupational Program of the Santa Barbara County Education Office, is a group of student-run businesses that represent a 20-year commitment to inspire students to create positive social and environmental change through ethical commerce and service learning. These efforts are represented through participation in Junior Achievement, Virtual Enterprise, Voluntary Income Tax Assistance (VITA), Roots and Shoots and Service Learning. All profits benefit employees and associated projects 100 percent, because they believe in “Doin’ Some Good in the World.”

Click here for more information about Dons Net Café. Connect with Dons Net Café on Facebook. Follow Dons Net Café on Twitter: @DonsNetCafe.

— Estevan Arroyo is vice president of public relations of the Dons Net Café at Santa Barbara High School.

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