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Refresh Annapolis Valley ‘Start It Up’ participants recognized for entrepreneurship

Young entrepreneurs Emma He, Gerald Kaulback, Max Caplan and Alex Petkov are recognized by Kings South MLA Keith Irving for winning the recent Start It Up competition.
Young entrepreneurs Emma He, Gerald Kaulback, Max Caplan and Alex Petkov are recognized by Kings South MLA Keith Irving for winning the recent Start It Up competition. - Contributed

High school students compete with university students at business start-up event

WOLFVILLE, NS - A group of Kings County high school students who placed first at a recent business ideation competition have been recognized for their accomplishment.

At a recent recognition event for outstanding community contributors in the Kings South riding, MLA Keith Irving presented an award to Start It Up participants Emma He, Gerald Kaulback, Max Caplan and Alex Petkov. They were recognized for placing first in the recent Start It Up event, a business ideation competition hosted by the Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre.

“Entrepreneurship is crucial to the future economic success of our province and with amazing young entrepreneurs like these in our communities, I think our future is bright,” Irving said in a statement read in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly.

The competition involves teams of university students working to solve industry or community problems within 28 hours. He, Kaulback, Caplan and Petkov took home the $6,000 top prize. To the surprise of the Acadia and Dalhousie university participants, the team of four fit right into Start It Up, competing as the only group of high school students.

“Being recognized made me feel like that my work as an entrepreneur is valued by my community,” said He, a Grade 11 student at Horton High School. “People can see the effort that we’ve put in and they are showing their support, which I really appreciate.”

Petkov, a Grade 10 student at Horton High, said that Refresh “has allowed me to explore areas that most youth would not have the opportunity to explore until they become adults.”

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The group of entrepreneurs from Horton and Northeast Kings Education Centre (NKEC) are not the only young people in the Annapolis Valley committed to entrepreneurship. At the same event, two Refresh Annapolis Valley middle school students, Solomon Caplan and Nathaniel Fredericks, took home the second-place prize for their business idea that seeks to gamify local community discovery.

Ten Refresh Annapolis Valley participants took their business ideation skills to the recent Startup Weekend at Dalhousie University. They formed three teams, including a team of two elementary school children, to develop and pitch their new business ideas.

Competing against a pool of eight other university teams, the Valley teams took home a total of $1,600 in prizes. Caplan, Fredericks and new teammate Carmen Peng won the third-place prize.

For these young people, interest in entrepreneurship doesn’t stop at business ideation competitions. They are serious about taking their now qualified business ideas and turning them into reality. With partners at the Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre and Mashup Labs, Refresh Annapolis Valley has been guiding these groups through the various phases of business development.

Refresh Annapolis Valley founder Mike Caplan said a core component of the organization’s mandate is to promote entrepreneurship in the digital technology space. Through Hoist programming, they aim to encourage young people in the Valley explore the world of computer science and its application to the community through entrepreneurship. Refresh Annapolis Valley programming is supported entirely by the community through donations and volunteerism.

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