Knoxville teen entrepreneur competes nationally

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KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A recent graduate from The Young Entrepreneurs Academy through The Knoxville Chamber of Commerce competed at the national level.

The academy just wrapped up its first year and Noah Smith walked away with top honors and a business of his own – he’s only 16 years old.

“We had to create a new idea and come up with a new idea – a service, a product or non profit – and we had to take that idea and make a business plan for it,” said Noah Smith.

Smith was part of the inaugural class for The Young Entrepreneurs Academy, or the “YEA” program. He and his classmates all had to come up with an original idea. Smith created Eco-rust.

“The idea stemmed from an old wives tale that we took into a science fair in eighth grade,” he said.

Creating this environmentally friendly rust inhibitor was not enough. This Campbell County high schooler also had to present his product and business plan to a team of investors.

“I like to call it a little mini-Shark Tank really,” Smith said, referring to the ABC show. “We prepared speech cards and delivered in front of a panel eight judges, then they would award cash money in order to make our business go.”

Smith got $1,000, the most for anyone in class. He’s used the money to produce more Eco-rust and to get a provisional patent. He left Thursday for Rochester, New York. There he competed regionally with the hopes of moving on to the finals in DC.

“There are going to be so many people there, so many scholarship opportunities. National recognition, that is really what I have been focused on,” he said.

When this young man focuses on something, he usually achieves it. If Smith looks familiar, it’s because he was named Boy Scout of the year. He’s also a Tennessee State Senate Page and he already has his sights set on a political career.  He says the “YEA” program helped re-enforce that anything is possible.

“Great CEO’s might come out of this. You might be the next million dollar company and that’s really what I like about this. You can do your own thing!”

Smith competed with 89 other businesses in the regional finals, but he did not advance to the Washington DC finals. Smith says he still plans to try to sell Eco-rust in local mom-and-pop stores.

If you or someone you know might be interested in the “YEA” program, they are taking applications for next year’s class.More online: Knoxville Chamber accepting applications for young entrepreneurs program

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