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Students Prepare for Sumter's Future Entrepreneurs Live Competition

For Immediate Release

Contact: Christine Burk

April 3, 2017


Students Prepare for Sumter’s Future Entrepreneurs Live Competition

Bushnell, Florida – The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Sumter County as is clearly indicated by the significant increase in applications submitted from last year at this time.  This year, both South Sumter High (SSHS) and Wildwood Middle High (WMHS) students jumped into the “Shark Tank.”  One hundred twenty three (123) applications, up from thirty two last year, were submitted as startup business ideas to compete for cash prizes in the Sumter’s Future Entrepreneurs event!  Of the 123 submissions (both team and solo), 79 came from South Sumter High and 28 from Wildwood Middle High School.  The business plans went through a first round of online judging.  The top five plans were then moved to the live event judging round.  Much like the television show, finalists will pitch their business plans live to a panel of five judges, demonstrating their entrepreneurial potential. 

From innovative toddler teething mittens to solutions to recruiting volunteers and improved technology services, the applicants submitted a wide variety of exciting business ideas, which were reviewed by a diverse group of judges to determine the top five finalists who will present at the live finale.  Submissions showed remarkable creativity, planning, research, and innovation.  

Superintendent Rick Shirley was impressed by the number and quality of applications submitted. He commented, "These students are amazing! We are so proud of our entrepreneurial stars and the innovative programs they have proposed. Who knows, we may have a future ‘Shark Tank’ contestant in our midst!”

The community has been very generous by providing funds for prizes, refreshments, online and live judges, and media products.  Donors this year include MyGarage, 1SEO, David van de Velde, City of Bushnell City Council, Wildwood Rotary Club, Mr. and Mrs. Winchester, Lake Sumter State College Foundation, Sumter Sunshine Community Foundation, and Kristeen Layne LMT.  A proud partner in the event is the Sumter County Chamber of Commerce. The company 1SEO has roots in Sumter County.  Its founders graduated from Sumter County high schools and went on to form a highly successful digital products and services company.  They created an inspiring video to help students realize the possibilities.  To view the video, go to

The five finalists, all solo entrepreneurs, will prepare for the live event where they will compete for cash prizes ranging from $1000 to $50, which can be used for business research and development or other endeavors that will help prepare students for workforce and/or postsecondary education.  This year’s finalist business plans are Breath of Life, Sophia Thornton, WMHS; Hypnotizing Highlighters, Andrea Comer, SSHS; Bamboards, Tristan LaMaire, SSHS; IFT Drones, Johnathan Bressette, SSHS; and Voluntolds, Faith Grizzel, SSHS.  Caitlin Beck, Perfect Pets, WMHS, will serve as an alternate in the event that one of the five finalists is unable to compete.

The finale will be held on Thursday, April 20, from 6pm to 8pm, at Lake Panasoffkee Elementary School. Each finalist will pitch the business idea in front of a live audience to a panel of judges representing business and industry.  The event is open to the public, and serves as an opportunity to show students how much the community encourages and supports the initiative, hard work, and entrepreneurial spirit of these future leaders.