The Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) announced the winner of its Saunders Scholars local Investor Panel competition.

The local YEA! Investor Panel was held on April 25 at Workspace Education where the local class of 15 students presented their business and social movement plans.  Their five-minute presentations included extensive market research, financial analysis, sales projections and an investment request from the judging panel. The judging panel was comprised of the following local professionals: Dr. Pauline Assenza of Western Connecticut State University, Mary Kate Gobleck of Reliance Merchant Services, Scott Johnson of Mack Media and Heather Neumann Salaga of The Tutoring Club.  After hearing the pitches, the judges were charged with awarding seed money investments to each business and then choosing a winner who advanced to the Saunders National Competition in Rochester, NY.

Joe Troetti,  a seventh grader at Bethel Middle School, was chosen as the winner for pitching his business Troetti Landscaping.  Joe has operated Troetti Landscaping, a full service lawn care business, for the past two years. Troetti, who has a love and passion for his lawn care business, took the class so that he could learn how to make his business a fully functioning legal entity and expand beyond his current market.  “In my business I solely focus on lawn maintenance as well as seasonal clean-ups,” said Troetti. He continued on to say, “So many landscape companies also do trees and masonry work but with a laser focus, I am able to really satisfy my customer and make it a pleasure for them to come home to a nicely manicured yard.”  In addition to ensuring complete customer satisfaction, Troetti also has a unique twist in that he gives back to the community by providing a free, monthly lawn service to someone in need. “Each month I will choose someone to receive complimentary lawn service based on their need,” said Troetti. He knows that paying it forward is the key to success both personal and professionally.

As the winner of the Ridgefield YEA! Investor Panel, Joe earned an all-expense paid trip to Rochester, NY to compete in the 2018 YEA! National Saunders Scholars Competition hosted at Rochester Institute of Technology.  The competition was held on May 4 with over 80 students competing from around the country. “It is truly inspirational to watch our future leaders put their learning into action as they launch their own, real businesses and pitch their business plans to community business leaders,” says Bobbi Jo Beers, Program Manager for YEA! Ridgefield!  “We are so proud of each and every student.

In addition to Troetti Landscaping,  14 additional students pitched their businesses that included: The Paw Print (Lucca and Gianni Santolomazza of Bethel), Cumanitee (Luisa Simon of Ridgefield), Did You Forget? (Ben Casinelli of Stratford), My Paw Post (Karina Rao of Ridgefield), Co-Companion (Samuel Justo of Danbury), Swish Grip (Chloe Perreault of Danbury), AIM Academy (Ava Derby of Ridgefield), Crafteze (Lucia La Orden of Wilton), Icing Master (Spencer Squitiari of Redding),  Poppin Flavorz (Spencer Soleiman of Ridgefield), Healthy(ish) (Harrison Beckenstein of Ridgefield), College Linx (Virginia Steen of Bethel) and Future of Your Future (Leighton Schur of Redding).

Funding of the businesses ideas was made possible by the generosity of the following sponsors:  Bareburger, Reliance Merchant Services, Teed & Brown, and the Tutoring Club of Ridgefield.

The Ridgefield Young Entrepreneurs Academy is hosted by the Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce and is the only YEA! program currently held in the state of Connecticut.  The Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce identified the YEA! program as a unique opportunity to pave the way for the next generation of entrepreneurial business leaders. The course, held weekly at Western Connecticut State University, spans 30-weeks of an academic year where students work closely with business leaders, community leaders and educators to guide them as they learn to transform ideas into real, tangible companies that create economic and social value.  If you would like to get your middle or high school student involved in this program please contact Bobbi Jo Beers at yearidgefield@gmail.com.