The sharp young minds of Cameron Kuwata and Ignacio Cabero were on display at the Missouri State Fair this week as the two teens from Lee’s Summit took part in a statewide business competition for seed money to launch, expand or maintain their business ideas.
Kuwata and Cabero were among 14 young people between the ages 12 and 18 participating in the MADE in Missouri business competition hosted by the Missouri Valley Community Action Agency.
The event was Aug. 12 at the Lowell Mohler Assembly Hall at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia. Previous MADE competition winners have been rewarded with seed money to fund their businesses.
Minutes before Kuwata took the stage to pitch EZ Trabajo, a job-related search engine geared toward the Hispanic population, the freshman-to-be at Lee’s Summit High School explained the origin of his business plan.
“I saw that there was a need for the product,” said Kuwata, 14.
More than 50 million Hispanic people live in the United States, he said, and a signficant number of them lack jobs.
“That’s kind of what prompted me.”
Cabero, 14, pitched I.C. Comics, a mobile comic book truck. He was not available for comment before the competition.
Kuwata and Cabero qualified for state competition through a partnership between the University of Central Missouri and its Small Business Technology Development Center. The entities teamed up earlier this summer for the Entrepreneurship or Bust Business Camp sponsored by the Blaine Whitworth Fund.
Each advanced by completing a 25-question submission form, developing a business plan and financial projections and designing an exhibit booth displaying their idea at the local entrepreneurial camp for teens. Each student also delivered a 10- to 12-minute pitch presentation to a panel of judges.
“He learned everything that I’ve learned as an adult on how to start a business,” said Kuwata’s mother, Gina, instructor of a stress management course for medical students. “It was unbelievable.”
Cameron Kuwata said he had little anxiety about the statewide competition.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the people and how they respond to my idea,” he said. “I’m somewhat nervous, but not too much.”
Kuwata said that being able to share the entrepreneurial experience with Cabero has been “really cool.”
“It’s been nice supporting each other through the entrepreneurial-like barriers,” Kuwata said.