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Virtual Enterprise Holds Fall Kick-Off for Local High School Entrepreneurs

High schools came from near and far Oct. 8 for the annual Virtual Enterprise Fall Kickoff event, hosted by the Santa Barbara County Education Office’s Regional Occupational Program for Career & Technical Education.

These VE students recently formed their virtual companies — not to mention several real companies — and now they must prepare to compete against one another across the state. This was an opportunity to warm up and test the waters of the entrepreneurial shark tank.

“Virtual Enterprise/Economics is a very popular entrepreneurship and economics course for juniors and seniors in California,” explained Lori Clayton, a career counselor for ROP-CTE.

“It teaches young people how to develop a business plan, execute a product launch, close a sale, and make a profit. But more importantly, students gain real-world skills of managing their priorities and collaborating for success.” 

“Please find someone you don’t know, shake hands and introduce yourself,” instructed Lee Knodel, fondly known as the Dons Net Café’s Miss B. “We are a family. We are here to learn from one another.

“Nine companies are represented here today. Even though we will soon compete against each other, we will grow and improve by sharing this warm-up experience.”

Montecito Bank & Trust’s Brianna Aguilar provides management tips. (Lori Clayton photo)
Montecito Bank & Trust’s Brianna Aguilar provides management tips. (Lori Clayton photo)

The “executives” from Dos Pueblos, San Marcos and Santa Barbara high schools welcomed Bakersfield, Carpinteria, Channel Islands, Moorpark and Thousand Oaks high schools. Next, presenters inspired the young managers and CEOs.

Guest speaker Monique Rodriguez attended Miss B.’s Dons Net Café ROP-CTE Virtual Enterprise program in 1998. She is a dynamic product and event promoter, and shared powerful sales tips with the students. Will Freeland is a DNC mentor from Montecito Bank & Trust and an accomplished Toastmasters public speaker. Freeland critiqued the students’ elevator pitches. Montecito’s Bank & Trust financial educator Brianna Aguilar gave valuable advice on how to run meetings and communicate across departments. Finally, Nancy Phillips, the State Program Coordinator for VE, coached the CFOs and accountants on their financial and bookkeeping protocols.

The first Trade Fair, as the competitions are known, will be in Bakersfield in early December. It is just the beginning of a busy trade show schedule, including San Diego, the Bay Area and ultimately New York City, if they can outswim the sharks.

— Lori Clayton is a career counselor with the Santa Barbara County Education Office’s Regional Occupational Program for Career & Technical Education.

Santa Barbara High School’s Dons Net Café presents its new company. (Lori Clayton photo)
Santa Barbara High School’s Dons Net Café presents its new company. (Lori Clayton photo)

Montecito Bank & Trust’s Will Freeland, center, evaluates pitches from the five companies. (Lori Clayton photo)
Montecito Bank & Trust’s Will Freeland, center, evaluates pitches from the five companies. (Lori Clayton photo)

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