Twenty-eight students from 12 area high schools recently spent a week learning what it takes to become a successful business leader, and some received scholarships for their winning ideas.

Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida’s CEO Academy, a weeklong summer camp led in partnership with FGCU Institute for Entrepreneurship, was held in early June at FGCU’s Emergent Technologies Institute. Throughout the week, student teams developed unique business concepts and comprehensive business plans, working to complete their projects and compete in a “Shark Tank” style model competition for college scholarships.

Under the guidance of experienced local business leaders, entrepreneurs and Florida Gulf Coast University professors, rising high school juniors and seniors from Collier and Lee counties learned about economics, entrepreneurship, ethics, finance, global economy, marketing and international trade. High school participants in the academy were from Bishop Verot, Canterbury, Cape Coral, Cypress Lake, Dunbar, Estero, Fort Myers, Gulf Coast, Naples, Riverdale, South Fort Myers and St. John Neumann.

“CEO Academy allows students to develop an entrepreneurial way of thinking and to experience first-hand what starting and running a business is really like,” said Angela Fisher, president and CEO of Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida. “Opportunities like this make a world of difference for students as they move into future careers, and we are thankful for the professors, entrepreneurs and business leaders who shared their time and wisdom to deliver an unforgettable learning experience for these students.”

Thanks to generous supporters, Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida awarded scholarships to each student on the winning teams for the business plan competition held at the camp’s conclusion. First place presentation, with a scholarship award of $1,000 per student, was team Remeny and second place, with a scholarship award of $500 per student, was team Cool Climb. First place prototype was Cool Climb and second place was Teens Against Red Tide.

Team Remeny’s concept was the Remeny app that would connect teens anonymously with counselors if they were needing someone to talk to. The app would be designed to help teens feel more comfortable opening up about their lives and issues. If they were too scared to speak to their parents or school, the app could connect with counselors to privately and anonymously chat.

First place winners for Team Remeny included Sarah Jiang, Cape Coral High School; Delanie DeVost, Canterbury High School; Arianna Addis, Bishop Verot High School; Jeremiah Dixon, Fort Myers High School; and Aidan March, Naples High School.

“It was a great experience, and we are so thrilled that Aidan had the opportunity to be so supported by mentors, educators, and leaders from the business community who were truly invested in guiding the teams,” said Carol March, mother of participant Aidan March. “I was really impressed with how the program was run.”

The Cool Climb concept was a water bottle infiltration system backpack that would keep water cold, with a built-in infiltration system for soldiers or outdoor enthusiasts needing to fill water bottles from a stream, lake or water reservoir.

Second place winners for Team Cool Climb included Athenna Addis and Micah Wilkerson, Bishop Verot High School; Shannon Dougherty, Cape Coral High School; and James Prendiville and Cameron Spell, Fort Myers High School.

“I was able to improve upon my communication skills. In the group setting I had to learn how to communicate my ideas thoroughly to my group, as well as the judges,” said Shannon Dougherty, a first-time CEO Academy participant in Team Cool Climb. “In addition, it helped me with time management. With such a short time to come up with an idea it is imperative that my team and I worked efficiently to do the project.”

Judges included Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida Board Chair Curt Todd of Wells Fargo Private Bank; Junior Achievement board member Kenny James of James Advisory Group, and Junior Achievement laureate Al Reynolds of Stantec. CEO Academy judges are exceptional entrepreneurs and have been recognized for making a significant contribution to the economic development of Southwest Florida while adhering to high moral and ethical principles.

“We were truly impressed by the innovative ideas that were presented by all of the participating teams,” Todd said. “Students worked hard and had fun while doing it, and it was great to see their passion for entrepreneurship grow through this week of hands-on learning. There are bright futures ahead for the students in our region, and we’re excited to see what great things they do next.”

The annual CEO Academy opportunity offers students invaluable knowledge and experience from successful business leaders and entrepreneurs, which provides an excellent addition to a college application and the chance to participate in future Junior Achievement events. The experience was provided by the proceeds from Junior Achievement’s Breaking Par at Grandezza golf event.

For more information about Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida, please visit www.JASWFL.org, call 239-225-2590 or email info@jaswfl.org.