Tyner students win big at Launch Entrepreneurship Competition

December 24, 2014 | Weekly Community News | Gabrielle Chevalier

Could an idea as simple as a self-filtering mop bucket win your high school student $10,000? Tyner High Academy engineering students found that it could when they placed first in the fourth annual Launch High School Entrepreneurship Competition. For their first place win, Pure Life, a group made up of Tyner students Terry Sales, Terry Thomas, Lorenzo Foster and Malik Yearby, won $10,000 worth of funding, legal and consulting services and more.

Their sales pitch, a practical and useful mop bucket with a filtration system to provide continuously fresh water, was built using mainly donated parts. Foster said it took approximately a month for his group to build. “It didn’t really take us much time to figure out what we wanted to do, it just took time to build it,” he said.

Gina Soltau, Launch Chattanooga program director, said throughout the four years of the program, she’s seen significant improvement and increased competition. “They’ve realized there’s a pretty good prize at the end,” she said. Launch seeks to empower entrepreneurs from underserved communities with business training, support and mentoring to better their lives and attain self-sufficiency, according to the program’s website.

Derelle Roshell, the first Launch winner and now a Launch employee, said the program has grown since he participated. He still has the chocolate business the program’s prize helped him launch, and he encourages more students across the city to get involved. “Even if you don’t win, you can always learn and you can develop a better business,” he said. Sales said concepts do not have to be complicated, as his team’s winning mop bucket — which stemmed from his work at Hardee’s and mopping daily — was not. “This was our dream from the start of the year,” Foster said. “It just feels really, really good.”