More than 40 youth from Best Buy Teen Tech Centers™ across Los Angeles learned about entrepreneurship and market research this summer. Then they put their skills to use in a tech innovation challenge.
The teens’ ideas varied from environmentally sustainable school lunches, to an app to find local music events, to an educational video game.
“I was very impressed with how the young people took issues that they saw in their communities and industry and explored new ways to address them,” said Chheav, a Best Buy social impact manager.
Creating tech solutions
For eight weeks, teens learned about business skills and had time to come up with ideas, research their target market, and prepare a business case.
The challenge concluded in August with a live event at Spotify’s LA campus where youth pitched their ideas. The judges were Elianne Rodriguez with Leading for Equity in Entrepreneurship Accelerator and Fellowship at Cal State LA; Lauryn Nwankpa with Brand Citizens; Brad Greiwe with venture capital firm Fifth Wall, and Andrea Wood with Best Buy.
Every student who completed a pitch received a $500 scholarship, and the top three winners received additional funds.
“The teens clearly put a great deal of thought, research and business acumen into their ideas and presentations,” said Andrea, social impact vice president and a Best Buy Foundation Board member. Teen Tech Centers are the signature initiative of the Best Buy Foundation.
The winning pitch was presented by three high school seniors from the Best Buy Teen Tech Center @ P.F. Bresee Foundation with an app called Strood. This app would help customers locate local street vendors on a map. The app also includes easy-to-use digital marketing tools to help the vendors connect with customers and grow their businesses.
“What’s most impressive about Strood is that it doesn’t just help me as the consumer, but it’s also meant to help the vendors who don’t have financial backing to elevate their business,” Chheav said.
The program and pitch event were brought to life in partnership with the Greater LA Education Foundation and Annenberg Foundation, with funding from the Calley Foundation.
“My experience in this program was amazing,” said Sudeb, one of the teen participants. “We had great mentors that gave us really meaningful advice to start a business, and it was fun working with the team to finish a common goal.”
About Teen Tech Centers
Best Buy Teen Tech Centers™, a program of the Best Buy Foundation ™, provide safe, after-school spaces where teens can get hands-on experience with the latest technology. Adult mentors and volunteers provide the support for youth to create, innovate and explore. Teens can explore their passions with access to cutting-edge technology including tools for film production, augmented and virtual reality, digital media, 3-D design, audio engineering, and so much more. Teens also have access to career training programs, internships, job opportunities, and scholarships for post-secondary education.
As part of our commitment to support youth across the country, we have set a goal of building 100 new Teen Tech Center locations by 2025, expanding the program’s reach to communities nationwide.
For more information about the Best Buy Teen Tech Center program, visit here.