February 23, 2010


The entrepreneurial spirit of seven Texas high school students landed them college scholarships as winners of the 2010 TCU Texas Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Award competition. The winners were chosen from a field of 24 finalists to win one of six scholarships sponsored by BBVA Compass. All scholarships are double if the student attends TCU. The Neeley Entrepreneurship Center hosts TCU Young Entrepreneur Days each year to bring the state’s most impressive high school entrepreneurs to TCU to consult with successful entrepreneurs, learn about the Neeley School of Business and experience college life. The student finalists are interviewed by a panel of judges who select the winners.

This year’s Grand Prize winner is Jarrin Lawton, a senior at Saint Pius X Catholic High School in Stafford, near Houston. Other winners of $1,000 each are: Carter Blackburn, a senior at Memorial High School in Houston; Sophie Galant, a senior at Greenhill School in Dallas; Joseph Lewis, a sophomore at Bellaire High School in Houston; Cody Miller and Ryan Pearlman, juniors at Parish Episcopal School in Dallas; and Sohail Prasad, a senior at Texas Academy of Mathematics & Science in Denton.

Jarrin LawtonGrand Prize Winner, $5,000 Scholarship
Jarrin Lawton, Senior, Saint Pius X Catholic High School, Stafford
Jarrin’s Pressure Washing Service
Jarrin’s Pressure Washing Service aims to beautify property at the most optimal price. Jarrin obtained his business license in August 2008.  His first client was Saint Nicholas Catholic Church. In 2009 he expanded his services to a car dealership, high school football stadium, private homes and commercial real estate businesses with multiple properties.  Jarrin’s marketing strategy is to identify businesses in need of service, communicate with the potential company, meet and negotiate the terms, begin work, and ensure customer satisfaction.  In just a year Jarrin has grown to 13 employees and expanded from one pressure washing machine to five.

Carter Blackburn$1,000 Scholarship
Carter Blackburn, Senior, Memorial High School, Houston
CB Magic
Carter’s interest in magic began in junior high school when he witnessed his science teacher make a red handkerchief vanish. Carter created his business in 2004 after training with an accomplished illusionist for two years. CB Magic provides first class magical entertainment that delivers enthusiasm and fun. Carter has performed over 200 shows ranging from birthday parties to large auditoriums.  He is represented by 10 professional entertainment agencies in the Houston area.  He also advertises, provides press releases, and receives publicity from local media.  CB Magic maintains a business line, website and email to be easily accessible by potential clients.

Sophie Galant$1,000 Scholarship
Sophie Galant, Senior, Greenhill School, Dallas
Kids Teach Kids
Sophie founded Kids Teach Kids in 2007 as a nonprofit organization which offers three enrichment programs for underpriviledged children: a one-week Summer Performing Arts Camp; a monthly Pre-K Literacy program called “Believe in Books,” and a student books-on-tape project called “Write Read Listen Learn.” Kids Teach Kids shares the talents of high school students with younger disadvantaged children. The high school students earn a service learning opportunity and the program does not require funds to hire adult teachers and coaches. Sophie raises funds annually from a fee-based summer camp, student art sale, annual luncheon, direct solicitations, bake sales and grants. The Summer Performing Arts Camp reaches 83 children using 30 teen counselors.  The “Believe in Books” pre-K literacy program was adopted by 30 low-income day care centers in Dallas.  The “Write Read Listen Learn” program is being developed by 85 fourth-grade authors with 25 teen editors.  The books-on-tape will be delivered to 100 schools for grades K through 2 and is projected to reach 30,000 children.

Joseph Lewis$1,000 Scholarship
Joseph Lewis, Sophomore, Bellaire High School, Houston
The People Person
The People Person is an online Bricklink store dedicated to serving Lego enthusiasts and collectors. The store specializes in Lego mini-figures, rare parts, discontinued sets, and hard-to-find items. Joseph founded the company in August 2007 with an inventory of 15 items. As of October 2009, his site has been visited by more than16,000 people and his inventory now lists 10,000 items.  Joseph researches and locates rare items and items in high demand, and sells only new or excellent quality used items. The People Person has served almost 600 customers in 34 different countries on six continents, with 100% customer satisfaction. All orders are invoiced within 24 hours and shipped within two days of receiving payment.  Joseph has learned that good service and products earn repeat customers.

Cody Miller Ryan Pearlman$1,000 Scholarship
Cody Miller and Ryan Perlman, Juniors, Parish Episcopal School, Dallas
RC Jams
RC Jams provides the newest music, dancing, lights and props in a fresh way that appeals to the age of the party participants.  Ryan and Cody understand their audience since they, too, are kids and have a unique way of presenting the latest dance moves and music to create a festive and inclusive environment. Ryan and Cody created RC Jams in 2006 after attending parties and observing that the DJs played outdated music, losing the interest of the kids.  Ryan and Cody interned with a local DJ to learn the business and test out two concepts: dancers with wireless mikes to get the crowd dancing with contests and games, and music that was generation-appropriate to the audience. They acquired equipment with a start-up loan from a local bank, landed gigs, garnered word-of-mouth support, started a web site, and paid back their loan in 2007.  They DJ Sweet 16 parties, middle school dances, pool parties, birthday dance parties, and promoted a party at a recreation center inviting various private schools in the Metroplex.  In addition, they volunteer their services to benefit their school.

Sohail Prasad$1,000 Scholarship
Sohail Prasad, Senior, Texas Academy of Mathematics & Science, Denton
The Pirate Box
Under his umbrella company, SDP Networks, Sohail created The Pirate Box, a company that provides each customer with a personal server.  To differentiate this company from other server companies, Sohail created a new way to allocate and distribute server resources, ensuring high quality of service for each customer. At age 11, Sohail founded SDP Networks, offering web design and search optimization services. At 12, he created SDP ComputerHelp to give consumers affordable and reliable computer assistance. At 13, he created SDP PrivacyPlease, software to provide secure internet traffic. At 15, he founded ThePirateBox. Sohail found that current internet service providers are too expensive, had low reliability and bad technical support.  He developed a new algorithm for efficiently distributing server resources and optimizing the amount of resources per user, while providing top-notch service. Sohail is implementing an automated payment system and automated user creation and server allocation system to cut down on human involvement so he can concentrate on supervision and customer support. He advertises using a banner ad on targeted blogs and forums.  As soon as the automated system is implemented he will ramp up advertising with multiple online ads and encourage specific influential blogs to review his service.

For more information:
TCU Texas Youth Entrepreneur Awards, sponsored by BBVA Compass: www.tcuyeya.org
Neeley Entrepreneurship Center: www.nec.tcu.edu
Neeley School of Business at TCU, Fort Worth, Texas: www.neeley.tcu.edu