Students get a chance to pitch business plans during DC Entrepreneurship Week

Chauntal Bittle, Tracey Coleman, Sade Hawkins and Maurice Burleigh are not typical entrepreneurs pitching to investors.

They are all 15-year-old sophomores at Maya Angelou High School’s Evans campus in Northeast Washington. When they’re not in class, they’re refining the plan for their clothing business, called It’s a Hoodie Thing.

The team designs custom hooded sweatshirts for clients using stencils, fabric paint and iron-on transfer paper. “It’s all goodie with the hoodie,” their slogan proclaims.

All students participate in Build, a national four-year after school program providing entre­pre­neur­ship training and college preparation for students at risk of dropping out of high school. As part of D.C. Entrepreneurship Week, eight groups of sophomores from Build’s D.C. branch presented business plans to potential investors, requesting a few hundred dollars each.

The team behind It’s A Hoodie Thing asked for an investment of $428.99 to cover their start-up cost — the cost of supplies required to design the hoodies. They would only need to sell 21 hoodies for $25 each to break even, the team said, a point they’d likely reach in March of 2013.

Potential investors gave the team feedback about their plan. Craig Mathews, who earlier pitched his own tech business to other investors, suggested sending a sample to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, famous for wearing hoodies.

After their presentation, the team said they were initially very nervous to make their first investment pitch. “I didn’t want us to not get the money,” Burleigh said.

Investors have not yet decided which projects to fund. But the team said they were surprised at how understanding the investors were, and having experienced one pitch will “make me calm down more” for future presentations, Hawkins said.

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