Young entrepreneurs from around the world gathered to compete and display their product concepts and business ideas to judges, investors, mentors, and other entrepreneurs during the TiE Young Entrepreneurs Global Summit at the Virginia Tech Research Center — Arlington.

TiE Global is a nonprofit devoted to assisting entrepreneurs through education, mentorship, networking, funding, and incubation. TiE Young Entrepreneurs is a “program designed for high school students to learn how to build a business from the ground up,” said program director Robin Dvorak, of TiE DC.

“The Virginia Tech Research Center presented us with high-quality tech space that was a real plus for the student teams presenting throughout the day,” Dvorak said.

The Executive Briefing Center at Virginia Tech, managed by Larissa LaCour, enabled students to highlight their innovations by using technology and creating a professional atmosphere. By using Zoom video conference tools throughout the building, more than 20 student teams were able to present to a panel of judges in one room while groups practiced and watched presentations in another. The technology also allowed teams unable to attend in person to present virtually to the judges.

Students from the second-place Pop&Lick team, from Hyderabad, India, said that when they met, they could not stand each other, but after nine months of working together, they now consider each other family.

The team created a chocolate base for a Popsicle to catch any drippings. When asked how they came up with such an idea, team members Aryana Rao, Sohini Kasu, Sreeja Muppidi, Vaishnavi Simran Palreddy, Mukund Dittakavi, and Abheek Dendukuri explained they wanted to create a product that could be marketed to a wide audience. One student exclaimed how hot it is in Hyderabad, and when eating a Popsicle you tend to be very messy — the genius behind their idea.

These students spent months developing their business plan, contacting investors and manufacturers, product testing, and listening to feedback before traveling to Arlington.

Cosponsoring the event was the APEX Center for Entrepreneurs in the Pamplin College of Business. Howard Haines, associate director of the APEX Center, said the Executive Briefing Center provided a space of encouragement for the students. He hopes to see them one day at Virginia Tech, using the resources of the APEX Center to grow their businesses.

Afroze Mohammed, associate director of strategic alliances in Virginia Tech’s Office of Economic Development, builds partnerships with organizations in the National Capital Region. She is a longtime member of TiE and connected the university with TiE DC. “Seeing the center abuzz with creative students from around the world captured the spirit of Outreach and International Affairs,” she said.

Dvorak stated, “Overall, I was impressed by the professionalism of the space that allowed our students to grow. This is a learning opportunity, and by presenting virtually and in multiple spaces, our students received an incredible experience. The research center exceeded my wildest expectations.”

Written by Jennifer Morgan

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