Over 700 ambitious students flocked to compete in California’s first ever, live Virtual Enterprises International (VEI) regional Trade Show competition. The event, sponsored by California Community Colleges - Doing What Matters Small Business (DSN) and HSBC, brought over 39 virtual companies to exhibit their products/services, which ranged from, among others, drones (Drone Vision), all honey products (Bumble's), to Sol Sand (sand and grime removing powder).
VEI’s experiential learning technique grooms students for the ‘real-world’ of business. As Joe Molina, Program Director (DSN) explained, “We are delighted to support this VEI Trade Show Competition, the project-based model replicates the functions of real businesses…it offers the soft skill set that business owners are looking for and exceptional opportunities for networking and mentoring.”
Teri Jones, VEI Southern California Regional Director, touted the value of the competition in bridging business and education, harnessing both soft and practical skills. According to Teri, “This competition gives students the experience to be able to learn in a safe way and become more business savvy. For employers, students might be very knowledgeable but not very hirable because they don’t have the social/communication soft skills, and this provides an excellent learning opportunity.”
The competition required students to write business plans, develop market research strategies, create websites, pay wages, taxes and sell their virtual services and products to each other using virtual bank accounts. The Trade Fair and Competition judged categories that included among others: Best Creative Booth, Best Company Commercial Video, Company Website, Flyer and Salesmanship, and was judged by business leaders and educational professionals including SeaWorld’s Alex Castellanos; SDSU’s Cody Emerson; United Payroll & HR’s Elena Ruiz; and East County Schools Federal Credit Union’s Mireya Rangel and Karen Fleck. The online portion of the competition included judges from San Diego Zoo, Youth Campaigns and Mile3 Web Development.
James McFarland, organizer of the trade show said, “Right away, the competition provides a business connection pathway, and has led to students gaining scholarships, internships and key college partnerships.” Teri Jones thanked the sponsors for their help in giving students the skills to succeed. “Without the financial, mentorship and support from organizations such as Doing What Matters/Small Business (DSN), the Virtual Enterprise program would not be able to provide such a rich experience for student growth. Joe Molina program director, DSN has been a fantastic support for the trade shows and regional business plan competitions.”