All of the teens requested between $700 and $1,000 at the Wednesday, April 12 event. And, much to their delight, they all received amounts higher than their requests.

None of the five teens who pitched their business idea to a panel of respected professionals appeared nervous, despite the fact that each one was asking for several hundred dollars of investment money.

The students, ages 15 to 17, participate in the Hannibal Area Chamber of Commerce Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA), learning fundamentals of how to own and operate a small business. Each teen honed his or her business plan during the program and sought seed money from the investors to help grow their business in a format similar to the hit television show “Shark Tank” — where entrepreneur seek real seed money from business moguls.

All of the teens requested between $700 and $1,000 at the Wednesday, April 12 event. And, much to their delight, they all received amounts higher than their requests.

“I'm so proud of our students and also so proud of our community for the support they have given us in this process and making these entrepreneurs' dreams realities,” said McKenzie Disselhorst, Executive Director of the Hannibal Area Chamber of Commerce.

Along with weekly meetings and speakers, the entrepreneurs were paired with local mentors, who helped the budding businesspeople navigate the ins and outs of running a successful business.

Rashelle Porter, a junior at Monroe City High School, said her mentor helped teach her “how to overcome the troubles that business can sometimes throw your way.”

Karrigan Jones, a sophomore from Quincy, Ill., also said the mentor aspect was beneficial.

“I thought it was really great,” she said. “She helped with the business plan and with ideas that I hadn't thought about.”

Porter owns Neticflow, a company that infuses traditional orthotics with magnets to help with blood flow “from the ground up.” She received $930 for the purchase of materials to create additional inventory.

The students had to answer questions from panelists about the growth plans for their businesses and specifics about the manufacturing of products. Scott Hall, Interim Department Chair of Business at Hannibal-LaGrange University, said he was looking for students who presented a well thought-out, customer-focused plan.

Connor Bogue, a Hannibal senior, earned $1,125 towards his business, Connor's Streetside Auto Detailing, a mobile auto detailing business.

In his pitch, he told the investors his business is the only fully-mobile car detailing business in the Hannibal and Quincy area.

“Other than a convenience, auto detailing is an art form,” he said during his presentation.

Bogue said he plans to offer paintless dent removal in the future.

All of the students said they had plans to continue growing their business and adapting to changes in the market. They said the multi-week YEA program encouraged them to think both short- and long-term.

“That's the good thing about having a 30-week program,” Disselhorst said. “They really had the time to get prepared for those realities and some of them are not old enough yet to do some of the legal things on their own.”

Jessica Stinson, a Hannibal sophomore, said she always dreamed of owning a business. Her business, Kickin' Koffee, is a small-batch coffee bean roaster. She was awarded $950.

Kinsey Tiemann, a Palmyra High School student, said the most challenging part of the program was the financials.

“I didn't really know how much to charge or how to bring in more customers and how I keep their attention,” she said.

Her business, Square Rooted, partners with local FFA students to bring their products to the marketplace.

“I've seen the need to support youth in agriculture,” she told investors from the perspective of an FFA participant. Investors awarded Square Rooted $960.

At the conclusion of the event, investors named Jones the Saunders Scholar. She will compete in the regional competition in Rochester, N.Y.

Her business, Calli on Callaway, combines canvas art and Biblical text, presented in a colorful, decorative way.

“My creativity and artistic skills combine to encourage others through God's word,” she told investors.

Her business plan included an online component, selling her goods through Etsy — an online marketplace.

Her business earned $1,030.

The students all came away with additional money to grow their businesses in Northeast Missouri, and Disselhorst celebrated their achievements.

“We really wanted to give young people a chance to see that opening a business is a reality for them,” she said.

Reach editor Eric Dundon at