Olympic Heights Finance Academy hosts first Onward Challenge entrepreneurial event and competition


The Castaways team of Manny Alboher, Nikolas Dasilva-Shoats, and Morelli Anthony was the winner of the first Onward Challenge competition hosted by the Olympic Heights Finance Academy.

As part of the celebration of National Entrepreneurship Month, Olympic Heights, for the first time, hosted the Onward Challenge event on Nov. 5. The event involved students from the OH Finance Academy’s classes taught by Ms. Olesea Svet and Ms. Cheryl Shimmel. 

Students from these classes were formed into teams of two or three that attempted to develop a business idea. Once the plan was developed, it was presented through a lean canvas and commercials. Svet and Shimmel then chose the five best business ideas to move on to the second round where the teams would present their creations in front of local entrepreneurs. 

The goal for this event was to promote entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial mindset while connecting OH students with the community small businesses,” Svet explained. “During this event,  five teams of students presented their business pitches to the panel of judges composed of the community business owners to convince them that their ideas had real potential.” 

At the event, OH was lucky enough to welcome very successful local business owners to attend as guest speakers and judges for the competition. The speakers included was Mr. Aleksandr Skarlato, owner of Dance Flow; Mr. Daniel Williams, lead program associate at the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) which offers middle and high school students the opportunity to work towards their entrepreneurial dreams; Mr. Chris Cusimano, the owner of Home by Cusi; Mr. Lem Bass, of 24/7 CEO Business Services; Mr. Scott Mershon, owner of Nothing Bundt Cakes; and Mr. Roy Hinson, founder of All Nets, which works towards innovation and business strategies. 

The five teams that presented at the second round consisted of Kevin Nguyen and Leonardo Del Carpio, presenting their product Plant Me for Life; Timur Abdurakhmanov and Remi Kashi presenting Nutriosk; Jordan Levitt, Michelle Knaz and Timothy Kennedy presenting Portal Gaming; Carter Kaplan, Jack Newman, and Max Gutman presenting Vapour; and Manny Alboher, Nikolas Dasilva-Shoats, and Morelli Anthony presenting Castaways. 

After the five presentations to the judges and the audience, the Castaways business plan, which is designed to establish food equity, was deemed to be the winner of the competition. Second place went to Nutriosk, with the goal of reducing food waste. OH Finance Academy student Aaron Thon, felt that the competition “was a huge success, as all of the teams and judges did a great job.” 

Svet and Shimmel, along with all of their students, express their special thanks to Cusimano for sponsoring the Onward Challenge t-shirts and to Mershon for providing the complimentary bundtlets and bundtinis. The Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) team, led by OH students Ella Spencer and Jordan Levitt, did a fantastic job of hosting the event. 

The entire OH Finance Academy was proud to have hosted the Onward Challenge event and is looking forward to this event coming back in the future years.