15-Year-Old Founder of Online E-Reuse Business Named Next Teen Tycoon by VerticalResponse

From the Bay Area to New York, online startups to pop-up shops, there is an entrepreneurial spirit that’s sweeping across the country – and it doesn’t discriminate by age.

Building on this spirit, VerticalResponse announced the three winners of its “Next Teen Tycoon” online video competition. The company – a leading provider of self-service marketing solutions for small businesses including email marketing, social media marketing, online surveys, event marketing and direct mail marketing – launched the national contest in mid-January with the goal of advancing teen entrepreneurship. It drew nearly 40 video entries from teens all over country hoping for a chance to win prizes totaling $10,000.

“At VerticalResponse, we’re all about helping small businesses succeed, no matter how young the owner,” said Janine Popick, CEO of VerticalResponse and one of the contest judges. “At a time when we still don’t know what the economy will be like tomorrow, it is so inspiring to see these enterprising teens take charge of their own future. All of our contestants should be proud.”

Eleven finalists were chosen via public online voting, and a panel of judges selected the grand-prize and two second-place winners from the finalist pool.

Grand Prize: iReTron – New Uses for Old Gadgets

Fifteen-year-old Jason Li, founder of iReTron, nabbed the grand prize and will receive $4,000 in “seed money” to grow the business, as well as a free trip to attend the 2012 TEDxTeen conference in New York. iReTron encourages people to turn in their old cellphones and other electronic devices for cash. The devices are then sold abroad, where there is still a demand. View the teen entrepreneur video by iReTron here.

“I started iReTron with the hopes of creating a way for everyone to help the environment,” said Jason, a sophomore at Saratoga High School in Los Gatos, Calif., near San Francisco. “We made our public debut at the Green Festival in San Francisco last year, where I spoke in front of 500 people. We’ve completed more than 500 transactions so far. We’re working with high schools, colleges and other companies to let people know it’s easy to be green.”

Second Place: a1000x – Showcasing Artists for a Cause

As a second-place winner, 16-year-old Jack Uesugi of Wahiawa, Hawaii, will receive $2,000 to help grow his business, a1000x (a Thousand Times). a1000x partners with local artists and helps market their designs while participating in social entrepreneurship. The company prints, sells and promotes limited-edition clothing and other merchandise featuring these designs, and a portion of all profits goes toward social causes. View the teen entrepreneur video by a1000x here.

“We’re called a Thousand Times because whatever you do in life, you want to do it big. You want to do it a thousand times better and put a thousand times more effort into it,” said Jack, a junior at Island Pacific Academy. “You’ll find that in the end, you’ll get the same in return.”

Second Place: StudioVictus – One-Stop Shop for Multimedia

Four high school seniors from Destrehan, La., near New Orleans, also will receive $2,000 to help further their multimedia company, StudioVictus. Co-founders Austin Bergeron, Matt Duhe, Joe Solito and Joshua Stoker officially launched the business in November and offer a variety of services such as photography, Web design, videography, graphic design and app design. The company recently designed the official New Orleans Hornets mobile app, and works with a growing number of local businesses. View the teen entrepreneur video by StudioVictus here.

“With the seed money, we plan to make huge investments in our company,” said Joshua, who attends Destrehan High School along with his three co-founders. “Company work shirts for professionalism on the jobsite, business cards and other advertisements to promote our company, a studio lighting kit for our photography work, and some money for Web hosting.”

Finalist Prizes and Judges

All 11 finalists will receive two best-selling books, “Your Starting Point for Student Success” by America’s top young speaker, Arel Moodie, and “Entrepreneurship” by Steve Mariotti, founder of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE).

Both Moodie and Mariotti also served as contest judges, alongside Daniel Brusilovsky (CEO/founder of Teens in Tech Labs); John Jantsch (small business consultant and founder of Duct Tape Marketing); Janine Popick (CEO of VerticalResponse); Ramon Ray (small business expert and editor of SmallBizTechnology.com); and Nicole Marie Richardson (executive editor at Inc.com).

“For 30 years, I’ve been working with schools and teaching young people how to run a business, and I think we are truly at an incredible time when it comes to youth entrepreneurship,” said NFTE founder Mariotti, whose organization holds several competitions per year including the World Series of Innovation and Elevator Pitch Challenge. “The students in the VerticalResponse contest have the motivation and courage to act on an idea and make it happen, and that’s a large part of what being an entrepreneur is all about.”

To view all 11 contest finalists, visit http://www.verticalresponse.com/TeenTycoon.

Baskin Robbins Announces Winner of Its Online Flavor Creation Contest

Thousands of ice cream enthusiasts throughout the country competed to be named the winner of Baskin-Robbins’Second Annual Online Flavor Creation Contest. After tallying the online votes, Baskin-Robbins today announced that Kelsey Lien of Santa Clarita, California has won the Online Flavor Creation Contest with her innovative ice cream submission, “Nutty Cream Cheese Brownie.”

“Nutty Cream Cheese Brownie,” the November 2012 Flavor of the Month, is a flavorful combination of chocolate fudge ice cream swirled with a cream cheese ribbon, combined with walnuts and fudge brownie pieces. To celebrate her winning flavor, Kelsey visited Baskin-Robbins’ corporate headquarters in Canton, Massachusetts on January 31, where she worked alongside the Baskin-Robbins’ culinary team to create the very first batch of her new flavor.
“On behalf of everyone at Baskin-Robbins, we are happy to congratulate Kelsey Lien on creating such a fun and delicious new ice cream flavor,” said Dan Wheeler, Baskin-Robbins U.S. Vice President of Brand and Field Marketing. “This year, we received an incredible number of inspired Online Flavor Creation Contest submissions and we are thrilled to see so many ice cream fans getting involved in not only entering the contest, but also participating in the voting process.”
“All of the flavors created sounded delicious, which makes being chosen as the contest winner even more of an honor,” said Kelsey Lien, a student at University of California, Irvine, whose area of study is economics and public health. “‘Nutty Cream Cheese Brownie’ was inspired by my love of baking and is meant to bring family, friends and loved ones together to enjoy a modern twist on the traditional brownie. I’m very excited to share my flavor creation with ice cream lovers everywhere when it debuts this November in Baskin-Robbins stores nationwide.”
The Online Flavor Creation Contest began in October 2011 and asked consumers to mix and match their own ingredients to create a signature ice cream flavor from 31 base flavors, a variety of ribbons such as fudge and peanut butter and a copious amount of mix-ins including candy pieces and cookies. Ice cream fans voted for their top 10 favorite flavors and chose the winning flavor, “Nutty Cream Cheese Brownie.” For more information on the contest, please visit http://baskinrobbins.com/flavorcontest/.
About Baskin-Robbins
Named the top ice cream and frozen dessert franchise in the United States by Entrepreneur magazine’s 31st annual Franchise 500® ranking, Baskin-Robbins is the world’s largest chain of ice cream specialty shops. Baskin-Robbins creates and markets innovative, premium ice cream, specialty frozen desserts and beverages, providing quality and value to consumers at more than 6,600 retail shops in nearly 50 countries. Baskin-Robbins was founded in 1945 by two ice cream enthusiasts whose passion led to the creation of more than 1,000 ice cream flavors and a wide variety of delicious treats. Headquartered in Canton, Mass., Baskin-Robbins is a subsidiary of Dunkin’ Brands Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: DNKN). For further information, visit www.baskinrobbins.com.