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SPHS Business Plan Team Wins Nationals

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The SPHS Varsity Virtual Enterprise business plan team for iKOMO is comprised of (left to right) seniors Danielle Choy (CEO), Anna Riffle (CMO), Kayla Zhang (VP of human resources), Amanda Estevez (CAO) and Lucas Halberg (CCO). Photo courtesy of South Pasadena High School

After five days of head-to-head competition with more than 500 business-savvy teams from across the country and globe, the business plan team of iKOMO, South Pas High’s Varsity Virtual Enterprise company, brought home the top prize at the National Business Plan competition held in New York City in April.

The iKOMO company is a digital pet company that utilizes blockchain technology so that users can buy and play with crypto-collectible online pets. It was formed in September, 2018, by Varsity Virtual Enterprise students at SPHS. For their vision, the students combined modern technology to create an educational online community which promotes financial literacy internationally.
Virtual Enterprises International is an educational nonprofit that serves to empower students through authentic business experiences in order to prepare them for fulfilling, financially-secure futures. Teacher Cathy Mason oversees the virtual enterprise program at SPHS.

The students formed themselves into “employees” serving in various departments including operations, animation, finance, technology, sales, marketing, human resources and administration. Throughout the process, the students aligned with community business mentors and partners to add a real-world edge to their business plans and presentations.

The business plan team consists of seniors Danielle Choy (chief executive officer), Anna Riffle (chief marketing officer), Kayla Zhang (vice president of human resources), Lucas Halberg (chief creative officer) and Amanda Estevez (chief administrative officer). Estevez shared with The Review that the essence of her team’s digital pet company was “Webkinz-Tamagotchi-Pokemon meets online crypto-currency. So you can collect these pets and own them with your unique blockchain ID and they’re stored on your blockchain wallet.”

Estevez said preparation for the event was “really intense” and included a 30-page business plan that had to be presented in 10 minutes with a question and answer session afterward. The plan outlined every part of the company including its startup budget, cash budget, summary profit and loss statement, marketing plan and industry analysis. It also took into consideration how the external environment and the current economic climate will affect the business.

“It has to be extremely detailed but it’s a lot of fun,” said Estevez. “It was an amazing experience.”

When iKOMO was announced as winners for their business plan, Estevez recalled an exultation of emotion and celebration.

“We worked so hard for this win,” said Estevez. “We didn’t expect it but we were so happy. I remember hearing our name be called for first place and we just immediately all five of us just shot up and embraced each other. Half of us were crying, half of us were just hysterically laughing. We couldn’t contain it. It was a moment that I will never forget.”

According to Estevez, the experience of participating in the Virtual Business program allowed her to not only craft a polished resume, interview and prepare for future careers, but also to grow as a person.

“I’m so grateful to this program,” Estevez shared. “I’ve grown as a public speaker and individual so tremendously in a way that I’d never imagined because I was able to gain this firsthand experience in a simulated office setting with my peers. I mean we’re all 16, 17, 18, we’re going to have our little fights but when it comes down to it, it taught me how to be professional and how to build meaningful relationships that will last. I feel so much more prepared.”
iKOMO welcomes all to visit the company’s hand-coded website at vei-ikomo.com (just sign on as “guest” and use the password “guest”) to experience their own crypto-kingdom.

Skye Hannah, Senior Reporter

Skye Hannah is a senior reporter for the South Pasadena Review and the San Marino Tribune, covering education, features and civic issues. Skye previously served as an award-winning senior staff photojournalist and staff writer covering education, business, crime, sports, features and civic issues for the Rome News-Tribune in Rome, Georgia. A native of Dallas, Texas, she is an avid cyclist, enthusiastic outdoorswoman, and has been known to drop “y’all” in conversation. You can reach Skye at shannah@gavilanmedia.com.

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