Entrepreneurship Students Judge Balancing the Books Business Pitches

On Friday, Dec. 4 Balancing the Books hosted local Syracuse area students from Huntington Middle School and Henninger High School for their annual campus visit to Syracuse University. Balancing the Books is a mentoring program which focuses on helping seventh and ninth grade students in the Syracuse City School District transition from middle school to high school and from high school to post graduation life. Mentors work with their mentees to answer questions and to teach them valuable lessons about financial literacy, career aspirations, writing and mathematics.

As part of the field trip Balancing the Books students participated in a question and answer session with a panel of student and alumni entrepreneurs from Syracuse University. Each panelist introduced himself and his entrepreneurial ventures and then the students were given the opportunity to ask questions about anything from the panelists’ products to any advice the panelists have based on their experiences.

Later that day the students from Henninger High School and Huntington Middle School presented their own start-up ideas to the panelists. The students stood up in front of their peers and the panelists and pitched their ideas which were developed Friday, Nov. 27 during a Balancing the Books session educating students about entrepreneurship. The pitches consisted of an explanation of the product, how much the product will be sold for, where the product will be sold and how the product will be promoted. The panelists asked each group questions following their pitches and ultimately decided on which start-up they would most likely invest in.

Daniel Strauss, a freshman in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University, co-founded two start-ups in high school and acted as one of the panelists on Friday. He was impressed by the pitches stating, “It was great to see the passion and hard work the students put into their business pitches. They all employed very creative thinking to come up with their ideas, some of which had scalable potential.”

It is great to see programs such as Balancing the Books and college entrepreneurs actively getting involved with the local community. Balancing the Books Program Coordinator, Imran Khanbhai, who leads the program sessions at Henninger High School, believes that getting involved in Balancing the Books is one of the most gratifying experiences he has had during his time at Syracuse University. “Not only are we able to educate local high school students but we also continuously inspire them to attend college and purse their passions. Topics such as resumes, budgeting and networking spark a lot of interest and set the students up for any path they wish to take. I never learned many of these topics in high school and it is rewarding knowing that you are making a real impact on the lives of local district youth,” said Khanbhai.

Ethan Waltersdorf