ODA sophomore develops a business plan that isn’t a lemon.
| 8:30 p.m. April 5, 2017
Out-of-Door Academy student Mairead Studdiford waited nervously for her turn during the second annual Investor Panel at the State College of Florida Lakewood Ranch's main auditorium on March 30.
She didn't have any reason to worry, though, before going in front of a panel which mimicked the Shark Tank television series. She already had a lot of experience in the business world.
The event featured nine students, from middle through high school ages, who were members of the Young Entrepreneur Academy. They described their business idea and plan to nine local investors who would decide whether their ventures were worth a little funding.
She had pitched other business plans over the years, including her business on the New Jersey shore, a lemonade and water stand, she ran with her siblings when she was 10 years old.
"I have always been interested in business," Studdiford said. "I would set up a stand near our house with my sister, Maeve, and my brother, Owen, and we would sell to the runners, walkers and bikers who came by."
At first, Studdiford offered lemonade for a quarter, and it wasn't long before she realized she could get $1 for a bottle of water.
"As our water business grew, we had the idea of selling additional items that might bring in even more money," she said.
Supply and demand.
Her mother, Cathleen Studdiford, brought some "fun" jewelry home for her children to sell. Eventually, the lemonade and water business transformed into a jewelry stand.
The Studdiford team learned to use the Web to brand their stand and to bring in more business. They not only made a nice profit, but they donated money back to the community.
On March 30, the main auditorium was buzzing as the young entrepreneurs pitched their ideas. The panel was made up of community business people who donated funds to the program.
Studdiford was composed as she explained her idea. She wanted to sell a prototype kit, called Snappy Starters, to help teenagers start their own business.
"I work hard on my presentation," Studdiford said. "I tried to prepare by thinking of questions that the panel might ask me. It's important to be prepared and ready to answer effectively when challenged by business leaders."
The students all had attended a weekly class at the Young Entrepreneur Academy to learn business practices and strategies.
Susan Flynn, a previous chair of Leadership Sarasota, mentored the students through the process.
"To prepare for tonight, I've helped them with their business plans, organizing their budget and forecasting their revenues," Flynn said. "We, as business people, try our very best to help them because we want them to be successful."
The entrepreneurial blood runs in the Studdiford family.
Her parents, Cathleen and John, were a huge influence on their daughter. They owned a pharmaceutical business in New York City until they decided to branch off and start the CC Ford Healthcare, which continues to run today.
Studdiford's mother is proud her daughter decide to walk in the same footsteps.
"Mairead has always had an entrepreneurial spirit," Cathleen Struddiford said. "She was always trying to sell things to people, even at a young age, and she is always thinking about what she can do to be unique. Her thought process has always been outside of the box."
After Studdiford's presentation, she was awarded $700 to help her start Snappy Starters.
"I am so excited because this gives me such a great opportunity to expand my business," Studdiford said. "I am so excited for what the future has in store for me."