Last spring, East Central High School Class of 2013 member A.J. Waltz, Bright, won $3,000 by participating in the first ever Maverick Challenge sponsored by AIM Young Professionals of Greater Dearborn County.
"This year, even more Dearborn County high school students will have a shot at winning up to $12,000 in the startup business competition, pitting them against their fellow aspiring entrepreneurs throughout southeast Indiana," said Mike Perleberg, AIM Young Professionals of Greater Dearborn County media chair. The success of AIM YP’s first year administering the Maverick Challenge there has inspired the group to continue the program for a second year. AIM (Achieve, Inspire, Mentor) is a sub-organization of the Dearborn County Chamber of Commerce.
“Maverick is a program which reflects AIM YP’s belief that the county’s brightest and most promising minds can find success in life and their careers at home,” says AIM YP President Hollie Stoops. “The winner can put the prize money toward college or a business.”
Online registrations to compete in the AIM YP-sponsored local Maverick Challenge are being accepted through Friday, Sept. 13, at MaverickAwards.com/MaverickChallenge. Students can also inquire at their high school guidance offices.
Senior and junior students attending East Central, Lawrenceburg or South Dearborn high schools are eligible, as well as any county student attending high school outside the county. There is no cost to register. Competitors don’t have to go at it alone as teams of up to three students – whether from one high school or different county schools – are allowed.
Students don’t need to be operating their own business to enter or have a shot at winning – they just need a good idea, a willingness to put pen to paper and the desire to see their business plan completed. Participants will have access to online tools and receive plenty of expert assistance along the way. AIM YP has assembled a panel of local business owners, managers and service providers to give the students valuable advice regarding their written business plans.
Participating students can win up to $2,000 if they provide the best written business plans by Nov. 22 and wow the judges with their final presentations in January 2014. The local prize money is funded through the Dearborn Community Foundation and Economic Opportunities 2015 (EcO15). Another $10,000 grand prize is on the line for the county’s top student entrepreneur when he or she advances to compete at the southeast Indiana regional Maverick Challenge competition in February 2014 in Columbus.
“We want to show Indiana that some of its best young innovators are being raised and educated right here in Dearborn County,” said AIM YP Vice President Mike Wallace.
The Maverick Challenge was founded in 2008 by the Columbus (Indiana) Area Chamber of Commerce. The competition gives high school students in nine southeast Indiana counties (Dearborn, Franklin, Ripley, Bartholomew, Decatur, Jackson, Jefferson, Jennings, Ohio, Scott and Switzerland) the chance to learn what it takes to get a small business going. They’ll receive insightful direction on planning, learn to manage finances and network. The prize money can be used to pay for college or – as in A.J. Waltz’s case – make their Maverick business plan become a reality.
"If you have just an idea, this competition will help you take it to the business level, create a plan and get you set on a journey to success," said Waltz, owner and operator of Waltz Photography, Lawrenceburg.