Branham, Prospect High Students Become Entrepreneurs

Enterprise Leadership Conference winning team presents biz plan to Los Gatos Rotarians; students come from Campbell, Los Gatos and Saratoga communities.

Several local high school entrepreneurs are now closer to understanding the intricacies of starting their own businesses thanks to participation in the annual Enterprise Leadership Conference held March 14-16.

Branham High School student Shynette Brown and Prospect High School student Yesica Venegas attended the three-day, all-expense paid ELC conference sponsored by the Los Gatos and San Jose Rotary clubs.

Also in attendance were several students, including an exchange pupil from Denmark, according to Rob Rennie.

Students formed eight teams and were asked to create virtual businesses. With the help of the Rotarians, they learned about marketing, human resources, finance, technology, how to give presentations and tips on how to build a company.

Venegas’ team developed the virtual product “Hunt,” which is a GPS system that directs drivers on which route to take directly on their windshield.

She said the system allows drivers to focus on the road instead of looking down at their GPS or printed maps. At the final presentation, Venegas’ team won first place for their presentation and idea.

“You will learn right there if opening a business is for you or not,” Venegas said, adding that in the future she would like to start a cosmetology or photography business while Brown would like to become a gynecologist.

Rob Rennie, a member of the Los Gatos Morning Rotary Club, participated in the conference as a discussion leader. Rennie works as a product manager for the Camarillo-based Power-One in its renewable energy division.

The students' business plans were reviewed to judges at the end of the three-day period. Among those also participating was Los Gatos Rotarian Darrell Monda, who served as judge, Rennie said.

This Wednesday, six of the eight students who won first place, presented their winning project to the Los Gatos Morning Rotary Club at the .

This was the 30th year of holding the ELC event, Rennie said, adding that Rotarians are amazed at how students' perspectives change once they realize all that a business entails.

One of the students in Rennie's team said she thought she wanted to be in finance, but after participating in the event, changed her mind to maybe working with people.

"It really helps the students," Rennie said, who donated his time to serve during the event. "It really makes a difference for the kids and it's an amazing experience for the Rotarians to see the students' confidence increase as the event progresses."

More than 300 students applied to participate, but only 96 were selected, Rennie explained. 

The students also participated in team-building exercises, he added.

Rennie said he was most impressed by how well the students worked together despite coming from different high schools, not knowing each other and having different cultural backgrounds.



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