Rising Tycoons announces Youth Entrepreneurship and Leadership Summit in partnership with GCU, CO+HOOTS Foundation

Rising Tycoons founder Olenka Cullinan recently announced her organization’s inaugural Phoenix Youth Entrepreneurship and Leadership Summit, which will take place this November 19th at Grand Canyon University.

The Youth Entrepreneurship and Leadership Summit, or YELS, is an excellent opportunity for teens with business and leadership skills to show them off via one of the most common entrepreneurial practices in America: pitching for investments. One hundred teens from all over the Valley will submit their pitches in video format to Rising Tycoons judges. Only five will be selected to pitch at the YELS itself for a grand prize.

The YELS is also a once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunity for teens who think entrepreneurship is the right career path for them. At the Summit itself, which reserves about five hours for workshops and collaboration, teens will build “CEO-like leadership skills,” immerse themselves in a community of like-minded peers, and most of all, energize their entrepreneurial spirit. “It’s an opportunity for adult influencers to encourage their youth to take a chance on something they may not yet be familiar with,” says Olenka of the YELS. “While they may not walk away entrepreneurs, the success skills they learn will stay with them for life.”

The finalists will attend the actual Summit on November 19th at GCU. The day starts with an ice breaker and a light keynote, then delves right into a number of workshops. After lunch, finalists will attend a few more workshops, then prepare to deliver their final pitches. Because the YELS is supported by the CO+HOOTS Foundation, the day’s workshops will mimic those of CO+HOOTS’s first Youth Startup Weekend.

Contestants compete for cash at a previous Rising Tycoons event. Photo by Rising Tycoons.

The Rapid Pitch Battle will begin around 3 PM, when teens will have just three minutes to pitch their businesses, then two additional minutes to answer questions. Each pitch will be assessed by a panel of judges, including Phoenix Councilman Daniel Valenzuela, TechAZ co-founder and serial entrepreneur Adam Toren, health space investor Erika Feinberg, Hopscratch founder Jonathan Cottrell, and CO+HOOTS founder Jenny Poondingo. The prizes? $300 in cash, plus a $1,000 scholarship to Grand Canyon University.

The event even coincides with Global Entrepreneurship Week, a worldwide celebration of innovators, job creators, and those who bring great ideas to life.

“Entrepreneurship erases all barriers to success,” Olenka Cullinan says. “It teaches teens that regardless of gender, zip code, skin color, or any other life circumstance, with perseverance and hard, smart work, they can build their lives into whatever they want them to be! With Rising Tycoons’s programs, we turn teens into tycoons because tomorrow’s leaders are in high school today.”

While submissions are closed for this fall’s YELS, Rising Tycoons is continuously planning leadership and entrepreneurship events for youth. If you know a teen who’s interested in entrepreneurship, keep an eye on the Rising Tycoons website for future workshops and events.

Adrianna Nine

Author: Adrianna Nine

Adrianna is a journalist, fiction writer, and criminal justice student at ASU in bustling downtown Phoenix. When she isn't tapping away at her keyboard or reading up on bad guys, Adrianna can be found soaking in the Arizona sun and testing out the coolest coffee shops in town.

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  1. My son went through this program when he was a senior in high school, and it lit him on fire. He’s now thriving quite nicely in Barrett Honors College at ASU, majoring in finance, and as a new Alpha Kappa Psi. He told me he doesn’t want to be a business owner, he just wants to be a successful executive, and this helpef him get one step closer.

    I also learned so much from Rising Tycoons as a parent and business leader myself. I love how Olenka gets the whole family and community involved, (but we’re trained to leave our kids alone!) I’ve since become very close with Olenka and actively involved with her programs, and I’m still growing as a professional, and as a mom. You have to experience this with your kids. It’s one of those experiences of a lifetime.

    Post a Reply
    • Adrianna

      Hi, Erika!

      Thank you so much for this incredibly supportive comment. We (along with Rising Tycoons) are so happy to hear that your son’s experience was not only fun, but productive — and that you learned a few things, too!

      -Adrianna, TechAZ

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