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Young entrepreneurs find winning niches

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Two students prevail in Youth in Government business competition

By Ramsey Scott

If the two winners of Littleton’s Youth in Government competition are any indication, the city’s economic future is in good hands.

And the future is all about technology.

Garrett Daly, a senior at Arapahoe High School, and Vanessa Weikel, a junior at Heritage High School, took the top two places respectively in this year’s Youth in Government competition. The competition had 15 students from Littleton design a business concept to operate out of their homes. 

Daly’s first-place idea, which won him a $2,500 scholarship from Littleton, was to start one of the first 3D printing companies in the United States. 

Daly’s company, called Printed Designs, would produce made-to-order custom items like cellphone cases and figurines using several 3D printers. The printers use a polymer to essentially make three-dimensional copies of items. 

“This isn’t a doggy day-care business; this is a revolution,” Daly said during his presentation to the City Council on Dec. 10.

For Weikel, who won a $1,500 scholarship from Littleton, her business took a different slant on new technologies. Her idea centered on dealing with the ramifications that new technologies have on people, especially her peers in high school.

“The classes for kids and teens — I would teach them how to be technology safe, and basic social skills that people lose as technology becomes more prominent in our lives,” Weikel said. “I’ve noticed people don’t know how to hold up a basic conversation without getting weirded-out about it. They’re not getting that social interaction, and they need that.”

Weikel said she would become frustrated when her friends wouldn’t look up from their phones while she was trying to talk to them. Weikel’s classes would cultivate the lost art of social interaction. 

For Weikel, it’s not just about manners. She said if kids are interacting only within their own virtual social circles, there isn’t a chance to meet people from different races and backgrounds. And that leads to more problems down the road. 

“If people are connecting one on one with different races, you can find out where they’re from and start to become more accepting,” Weikel said. 

Weikel’s classes would also teach kids about the dangers of giving out too much personal information on the Internet and how to prevent bullying. 

“It was an amazing experience. It’s amazing how much I didn’t know before. I learned so much about zoning laws and all the things that go into starting a business,” Weikel said.

 

Contact Ramsey Scott at ramsey@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22.