With just ten minutes on the clock, the stakes were high for David Jackson,17, and Kenneth Butler, 17, as they pitched their small business idea to four judges in a standing room only conference room.

Their idea, The Casper Tracker, is a 2 mm X 2 mm chip used to find lost or stolen technology or personal items. Through satellite connectivity, the chip links to an app available on phones, tablets and computers.

During the fist-ever, Wells Fargo Hands on Banking® Small Business Idea Lab Competition their pitch moved the crowd, and most importantly the four judges. To their surprise, they won first place.

This competition, similar to the TV show “Shark Tank,” took place during the recent 32nd annual 100 Black Men of American, Inc. (100 BMOA) conference, sponsored by Wells Fargo. The conference aimed to advance educational opportunities and promote economic empowerment ― with an emphasis on young African American males.

Middle- and high-school-age students from the local 100 BMOA chapters submitted innovated business ideas for a chance to win scholarship money. Jackson and Butler beat four other small business ideas, including Financial Readiness Equipped for Everybody (FREE), Hydroponics, Impress, and Go-Go Groceries. Each small business was required to use the Wells Fargo Hands on Banking® curriculum during their presentation.

The first place winners received $1,500 in scholarship support, but the greatest reward was the business acumen and professional skills they received.

The Atlanta natives said they do not see many entrepreneurs that look like them, and they are determined to change that narrative.

“A lot of young black teens have what it takes, but do not have the resources and mentors to take their ideas to the next level,” Jackson explained. “I’ve learned so much being in this program, including elevator pitches and social skills to help me advance my opportunities.”

Jackson is looking forward to using the scholarship to kick-start their small business idea. He and his partner, Butler, plan to share their idea with venture capitalists to propel the activation of The Casper tracker.

“This gives me a better idea of what to expect when meeting future investors, and gives me experience on what to look forward to,” said Butler, of the 100 BMOA’s South Metro Atlanta Chapter.

Building Communities For Long-term Success

Through support to the 100 BMOA, Wells Fargo is able to provide financial education seminars, first-time homeowner workshops, and empower youth through mentorship, scholarship aid and professional development.

“This validates that when you work to understand the needs of the community and the people we serve, you can find great success. In this instance, our success is measured by how we see the young people we mentor and how they are able to do what some consider the impossible,” said Brenda Wright, SVP and Western Region Community Relations Leader.”