On Wednesday, December 13, the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) class of 2018 was hosted at Bareburger in Ridgefield for their food franchise field trip. This field trip is the second of six that the students experience during their thirty-week class helping them to understand different businesses, structures and experience.
Bareburger co-founder and entrepreneur Euripides Pelekanos traveled from Queens, New York to share his story and answer many questions from the students. Euripides shared his journey to international success, which had many curves and bumps in the road. Euripides began his entrepreneurial journey in Brooklyn where he opened a nightclub called Sputnik. As an aside, they served food to clubgoers and while he enjoyed the business he was in, he soon realized people were coming more for the burgers and a new idea was born. The burgers being served were not just any burger, but rather an organic and all natural variety, which was not so commonplace in 2009 as it is today. What started with one forty seat restaurant in Astoria, Queens has morphed into an international franchise with locations spanning the globe from Tokyo to Canada and of course, across the United States.
Euripides answered many questions as the kids enjoyed delicious fries and drinks. Students were eager to ask question about challenges and financials and even what his advice would be to his younger self. Ridgefield manager Andrei Paschenko spoke to the YEA! class about hyperlocal successes and concerns. Marketing and Events Manager, Dana Jevarjian was able to share her marketing expertise as well stories about her early entrepreneurial ventures which began at age 13.. Dana talked about the importance of thinking outside the box to continually evaluate and improve. Passion with purpose seemed to be the consistent message of the evening.
After meeting the students and learning about the YEA! program, Pelekanos agreed to sit on the YEA! Investor Panel which will evaluate and invest in the students businesses. Pelekanos said, “It would be an honor to take part in this valuable experience which will pave the path for future business leaders.” Chamber Executive Director Jennifer Zinzi couldn’t be more thrilled. “To have someone like Euripides share his story with our students is priceless.” She continued, “He brings a wealth of experience to the panel and easily relates to the students.”
Euripides will join fellow investors and judges Mary Kate Gobleck, owner of Reliance Merchant Services, Robert Salaga, owner of Tutoring Club of Ridgefield and Chris Brown, co-owner of Teed & Brown. Bobbi Jo Beers, YEA! Ridgefield program manager, says “The level of enthusiasm our judges, sponsors and mentors have is very exciting.” She went on to say, “We continue to seek additional adult participants for the investment panel as well as for our CEO Roundtable on March 8.”
The 2018 YEA! Investor Panel is scheduled for April 5, 2018 on the campus of Western Connecticut State University where we also hold for weekly class. Students have enjoyed the brand new space at WCSU called ERIC @ The Garage. The Garage was created to foster the entrepreneurial spirit in young adults have and has been the perfect synergy for our maiden year of YEA!.
The Young Entrepreneurs Academy is a nationally recognized program that has been licensed for three years by the Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce thanks to the generous support of Liz and Steven Goldstone. Ridgefield is the only Chamber in the state currently hosting the Young Entrepreneurs Academy. For more information on sponsoring the program or mentoring students, please contact Bobbi Jo Beers directly by calling 203.733.7406.