Megan Roberts, a 15-year-old senior at Premier High School (PHS) – Lewisville, is heading to the Youth Entrepreneurs (YE) Summit in Kansas in June along with 100 other business-minded students from across the country.
Roberts created a business called Composite Designs, which would sell custom vinyl stickers. In the classroom competition earlier in the school year, she competed against nine of her classmates. To Roberts’ surprise, she won the classroom competition and earned $100.
She then moved on to the Big Idea statewide competition in April where YE students pitched their business ideas to a panel of experts judges in a Shark Tank-style competition.
Roberts says that she realized owning her own business was possible when a YE regional director asked for her business card at the state competition. Roberts became interested in starting her own custom vinyl business after getting a Brother ScanNCut machine for Christmas because she says she’s a naturally crafty person. “It reduces my anxiety and it’s fun to do. I get to create new projects and earn some extra money.”
Although Roberts was nervous about presenting to strangers at the statewide competition, she was encouraged by Tiffany Jasper Jones, YE Area Manager, and was awarded a $775 scholarship for winning first place. The scholarship is to be used to start her business or towards post-secondary education. She now has the opportunity to win part of the $20,000 scholarship pool available to winners of the YE Summit competition in Wichita, Kansas June 19-21.
“When Megan presents her business plan at the national competition, she not only has the opportunity to win thousands of dollars, but there is also the opportunity to meet investors who could potentially hire her or invest in her company,” says Erica DeHaas, PHS Lewisville teacher, and YE program educator.
“Ms. DeHaas has guided me so much. She was the one who pushed me to go to semi-finals and has been supporting me the whole way,” says Roberts. “Any questions I have with my business she is able to help me. She’s taught us everything we need to know and when we don’t understand it, she helps us even more.”
DeHaas herself is an entrepreneur and novelist. In a recent article published by Koch Industries, DeHaas says, “I always wanted to be a writer…One thing that encouraged me to stick with it was just being a role model for my students.”
Last year, nine schools in Texas were chosen to partner with Youth Entrepreneurs, one of which is Premier High School – Lewisville. YE is a program founded by Liz and Charles Koch designed to give high school students an opportunity to learn about what it takes to be a business owner, encourage them to pursue higher education and become successful in business and life.
At this point in the competition, Roberts is working alongside a Youth Entrepreneurs mentor who was one of the judges and has business experience in the craft world. Roberts says that the mentor will help get her in contact with wholesale suppliers and coach her for her big pitch.
Before coming to PHS in January 2017, Roberts attended a traditional Independent School District (ISD). “I struggle with bipolar disorder and severe anxiety, so a large public high school wasn’t for me,” says Roberts. She says that, while at a residential facility, a therapist suggested a ResponsiveEd school and after touring a few in the area, her family visited PHS – Lewisville and Roberts went on to say, “now I’ve found my home.”
Roberts is on track to complete her high school education by December 2018, and will then receive her diploma in the June 2019 graduation ceremony with her class. Because of the self-paced program offered at Premier High School, Roberts will be graduating from high school as a 16-year-old. Following graduation, she plans to attend Texas Women’s University and eventually become a special education teacher.
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