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Competition earns teen cash, confidence and a plan for the future

David Abbruzese Reminder submitted photo
Jennifer Sawyer

Staff Intern

David Abbruzese is not your typical teen. At 16, the Minnechaug High School junior has already developed his own business plan, and an award-winning one at that.

Abbruzese recently earned second place in the Western Massachusetts Young Entrepreneurial Scholars Competition that took place May 26. He received an award of $600.

The business plan competition is hosted at the end of the school year by Springfield Technical Community College (STCC). Cash prizes are awarded to the students with the most practical and well-developed business plans.

Abbruzese's winning entry was entitled "Dave's Bagelmelts." The business would be composed of a food kiosk, catering specifically to the college demographic. The kiosk would be located on a college campus and open in the evenings, serving up fresh bagel sandwiches, especially for the late-night snacker.

Abbruzese learned about the program through his entrepreneurship class at Minnechaug. Over the course of three months, students created binders with business plans and marketing strategies. Abbruzese was picked out of the class to present his project at the annual competition. Fourteen chosen students, representing eight schools, presented their projects in front of a board of local business owners acting as judges. The 14 were narrowed down to five students, who presented in front of a new set of judges. The winners were announced at an award ceremony a week later.

"It felt great to win," he said. "I was really proud of myself to represent my school and my family."

Abbruzese is no stranger to achievement. He is a two-year member of both the varsity football and indoor track teams. An active member of his school's K.E.Y. Club and newspaper, Abbruzese also finds time to hold a job at the Basketball Hall of Fame.

He plans to put the money into savings and use it towards college in the future.

"As of now my three top choices are Bryant, Bentley, and Springfield," he said.

Abbruzese plans to carry out his interest in business in the future by majoring in either business or sports management.

The teen credits his parents with his success, citing them as his two biggest influences.

"My dad is a great role model. He's part of a corporation, so his advice influenced my business plan." Abbruzese explained. "Also, my mother is a caterer, so she helped me develop types of bagel sandwiches for the business to be successful."

The competition is a component of The Young Entrepreneurial Scholars, or "YES!" program. The program is open to area high school students interested in starting their own businesses. Participating students learn valuable business skills and receive hands-on experience while developing the tools needed to create their own businesses.

According to Diane Sabato, director of the Entrepreneurial Institute at STCC, there are about 20 schools that participate in the Yes! program each year, including over 1,000 students from western Massachusetts.

For Abbruzese, the program was particularly beneficial.

"Now I know what it takes to go out and start my own business."