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Young entrepreneurs graduate as CEOs

The five student graduates of the 2016-17 class of the Hudson Area Young Entrepreneurs Academy proudly display their company logos at a graduation party held May 23. From left to right: John Volovsek (Hudson), Kadin Bartlett (Hudson), Andrew Newman (Hudson), John Volovsek (Hudson) and Abby Fry (River Falls). Photo courtesy of the Hudson Chamber of Commerce

Five students from Hudson and River Falls received CEO status May 23 upon graduation from the Hudson Area Young Entrepreneurs Academy. After months of hard work, Hudson Area Chamber President Blake Fry awarded the class their diplomas, alongside the program's director, Eric Wenz.

"This is a unique program, where kids can actually launch real businesses or social movements," Fry said. "This year's businesses range from those that are creating products that are already for sale in retail settings to high-tech innovative concepts that will require a great deal more research and development before they are brought to market."

Along with receiving their diplomas on Tuesday, the students held a trade show where they promoted their businesses and products to the public.

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy is a groundbreaking 30-week program that guides students in grades 6-12 through the process of starting a real business, including: business-plan development, pitching an investor panel, obtaining funding, launching the venture, managing media campaigns, e-commerce and web development, sales events, and trade shows. Students, ages 11 to 18, are taught to recognize the power of their ideas, and to develop the skills necessary to turn those ideas into meaningful companies.

The following students make up the 2016-17 Hudson Area Young Entrepreneurs Class:

• Kadin Bartlett, Hudson, CEO of The Grad Hatter

• Abby Fry, River Falls, CEO of Global Adapted Books

• Andrew Newman, Hudson, CEO of Snow Grow Bindings

• Brady Schoeder, Hudson, CEO of Smushy Socks

• John Volovsek, Hudson, CEO of Gifitgami

Earlier in the semester, an investor's' panel awarded full start-up funding to each of the businesses after receiving a five-minute pitch from the students and reviewing their business plans. The investor's panel also selected one student, Bartlett, to compete in the Saunders Scholars Competition in Rochester, N.Y. Travel expenses for Bartlett and one parent were covered by the program.

More information on the Hudson Area Young Entrepreneurs Academy, including an application information for the 2017-18 class beginning in October, is available at