Food Industry Savvy Pays Off For Boca Student In YEA Competition

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By: Dale King Contributing Writer

Experience in the food industry paid off for the winner of the seventh annual Young Entrepreneurs Academy Investor Panel competition held last month at the headquarters of Office Depot in Boca Raton.

Garret Goodman took first place among the 31 participants competing in the event that brings to a close the annual 30-week YEA program sponsored by the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce.

He will advance to the Young Entrepreneurs Academy Saunders Scholars Competition in Rochester, N.Y., where he will compete with students from across the United States for college scholarships.

YEA, part of the Boca Chamber’s Golden Bell Education Foundation, guides students from grades 6 through 12 through a nine-month curriculum during which they develop life skills, generate business ideas, conduct market research, write business plans and launch their own companies. Their instructors and mentors come from the local business community.

Sarah Pearson, the Chamber’s executive vice president, said, “100 percent of funding comes from corporate and personal donations.” All classes are held at St. Andrews School.

The competition that concludes the school year-long effort is conducted like the TV show, “Shark Tank.”  Participants present their ideas before a panel of local industry leaders and a public audience, ultimately looking for capital to help underwrite their entrepreneurial efforts. Most participants have already laid the groundwork for their endeavors.

Goodman, who was actually the final contestant in the April 11 program, explained his plan to launch Taste Tags, a limited liability company that creates unique time-temperature labels that accurately measure the shelf life of deli meats. By changing colors over time, he said, “Taste Tags clearly indicate when meat is no longer fresh.”

The winning entrepreneur has experience in the food industry as a restaurant worker and food blogger. He said he decided to launch this business after witnessing extensive amounts of food waste in his own home and the restaurant where he works.

Runner-up in this year’s competition was Anaya Shintre whose company, Air Charge, manufactures a wireless phone charger.

Members of the investor panel included Eric Bucher, CEO of Call Sprout; Richard Feldman, chief corporate development officer for TouchSuite; Eric Handis, VP and senior wealth advisor for Comerica Bank; Catherine Meehan, global business partner marketing for IBM; Justin Potts, VP of e-commerce and digital marketing for Office Depot; Veronica Romney, president and co-founder of LoSoMo Inc. and Ed Ventrice, managing director of UBS Private Wealth Management.

Ken Lebersfeld, CEO of Capitol Lighting served as  master of ceremonies for the event.