BBYO program helps girls become capable at business.
My heart was racing as the judges walked back into the room. We were all hoping our business plan would win this year’s Shark Tank-style event. I had a sliver of hope that my partner and I would win, but I mostly thought I was not capable of winning.
Judge Ally Cohen, owner of Frameable Faces, began to speak. “The judges and I decided on our winner because we feel this business idea is something we believe can actually happen.”
Instantly, I ruled myself out. I did not think I could run a business, let alone one that required a storefront.
“The winner is Sip ‘N Study!” Cohen announced.
I was not sure I had heard that right. Hannah Knoll and I had just won $250 to start our own business!
For the past three years, I have been fortunate enough to be a part of a program called Building Entrepreneurship, a program created and supported by BBYO Michigan Region. It’s for Jewish high school girls aspiring to become entrepreneurs. Through the program, we build our confidence, become empowered as future female Jewish leaders, and grow our knowledge of business and entrepreneurs. Only a set number of girls are selected to participate each year through an application process.
This program has provided me with so many assets I will hold with me as I continue to grow outside of high school. I have learned the basics of starting a business, and I now know that I am capable of it. I have learned leadership skills by being one of the coordinators of this program, and I have gained skills in public speaking as well.
Building Entrepreneurship has four events every year. First was a weekend retreat in Downtown Detroit, where we met with several business owners, including Alexandra Clark of Bon Bon Bon and Erin Gavle of the El Dorado General Store. Many of the owners were women and/or Jewish. It was eye-opening to hear all these successful businesswomen share their stories with us. Still, I never thought I was capable of coming up with a successful business idea or even trying to start a business.
During the retreat, we visited Quicken Loans and were inspired by female leaders within the company. They worked with us to help develop ideas for businesses to present in the Shark Tank event.
Hannah and I had no idea where to begin. We were exhausted from a long day and could not think straight. We had just been talking about a chemistry test we both had so we were on the subject of school. Then, we came to the realization that there isn’t a good place for teens to study that meets all our needs; thus, Sip ‘N Study was born. That day, we discussed our ideas and came up with some pretty great plans. I felt really accomplished that I was able to come up with an idea that had real potential.
The next event was to the University of Michigan’s Center for Entrepreneurship. We listened to college students in the TechArb program pitch their business ideas, which were more developed than ours, yet we had a lot in common. Most were nervous to pitch their ideas to us, just like I was to pitch my ideas to the Shark Tank judges. It was great to hear people just like me with an idea and a dream.
The next meeting was the Shark Tank competition. Hannah and I had done lots of prep prior to the event. With that said, I had no idea I would walk away with $250 to start my business. We had about two hours to plan our pitch. We researched the licenses and permits we would need, and the prices of all the materials we would have to buy.
We were set to go fifth, giving us plenty of time to get super nervous. When our turn came, we did everything as we practiced. It was hard to read the judges, but I thought they really liked our idea. But, there were so many good ideas. Hannah and I did everything we could, and it was out of our hands.
Winning the Shark Tank is a dream come true, and I am so excited for the next step in my journey as a young entrepreneur!
I am so grateful to be given this opportunity to start a business. My whole life, I have wanted to be an entrepreneur, and this is finally my chance.
Brayden Hirsch is a junior at Walled Lake Central.