Anacapa School student Marco DiPadova won first place and $1,000 cash in the Santa Barbara City College Scheinfeld Center New Venture Challenge. Local high school and college students submitted business plans in the annual challenge, and 10 finalists presented virtually before local entrepreneurs on April 29.
Other high schools represented by competing finalists were San Marcos, Santa Barbara and Cabrillo.
DiPadova, 14, won with his business Planet Duck, a social venture that donates 100% of its profits to local animal shelters and bigger nonprofits that defend animals. Planet Duck sells high-quality rubber ducks and merchandise. With more than $40,000 in sales already, DiPadova and Planet Duck have donated more than $5,000.
“Marco’s venture is special because it is already succeeding in sales, and already making an impact in donations,” said Dylan Minor, Anacapa’s head of school and faculty head for the entrepreneurship lab. “Marco is especially passionate about what he’s doing.”
DiPadova thinks he won because of his sales, suggesting, “The other contestants had great ideas, but they didn’t have any sales. I’ve already proven that my business plan is effective.”
Duck World was born in 2020 out of DiPadova’s concern for sheltered animals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’ll probably donate it,” DiPadova said of the prize money. “I have enough profit to keep the business going, and I think the animal shelters need it more than I do.”
DiPadova said hopes to expand Planet Duck’s marketing to teach more people about its mission. “Our long term goal is to donate $15,000 to support animals around the world,” he said.
Fellow Anacapa student Kai Urbany, 18, was also a finalist for his proposed venture Life’s A Wave, an underwear product designed to be worn under wetsuits.
“Kai was a finalist because he followed the classic successful entrepreneur approach, finding an unmet need and approaching it with an entrepreneurial venture,” Minor said.
Anacapa students have had success in the competition in the past, having placed second overall in 2019 and third in 2020. Minor said past and current successes likely are due to “the interest of some of our students in business and social enterprise, and our intensive entrepreneurship lab which helps students hone their skills as young entrepreneurs.”
“I look forward to finding the next student entrepreneurs who are interested in launching a business,” he said.
For more about Planet Duck, visit https://planetduck.world/.