EnterCircle celebrates entrepreneurship, inspires students

Entrepreneurs, business leaders, successful professionals in various fields and people who wanted to learn gathered at the EnterCircle Summit 2022 link on November 16-18.

In its second year, the event brought together a range of inspirational and thought-provoking speakers and presented special events for the benefit of attendees. It was a celebration of entrepreneurship, but it was also a place where anyone contemplating a future in business could gain wisdom from those who have already succeeded.

More than 300 people attended the summit over the three days.

The first day was a youth symposium for participants aged 17 to 25 years. Attendees had the opportunity to gather knowledge from successful business people and participate in discussions that would help them gain insight into the many career opportunities in today’s world.

The second day was Start-ups/Small Business Day with a range of speakers and activities including a structured business pitch event and a business expo, the latter an opportunity for entrepreneurs to interact with other professionals and the public, the 12 exhibits presented.

Six teams from local high schools with two independent pitch competitors presented to six judges during the pitch event. Keynote speakers included Jay Owen, CEO of Business Builders Agency and Kelly Youngs, Founder of She is Fierce!

The third day was Women’s Entrepreneurship Day to celebrate Global Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, a special event where women could learn, create, generate ideas, connect and celebrate resilience. Among the many speakers was keynote speaker, author, TV presenter and business coach Snowden McFall. State Representative Cyndi Stevenson and recently re-elected school board member Beverly Slough also spoke.

The day’s topics covered politics, architecture, construction, engineering, sports and small business.

Inspire the next generation

One of the key educational components of day two was the induction of students from the International Business and Marketing Academy at Ponte Vedra High School and the VyStar Academy of Business at Pedro Menendez High School. Raghu Misra, CEO of the Link and Sapna Foundation, believes all conferences should have time for youth to express themselves and learn.

“This is a big day for us to truly celebrate a tremendous growth in entrepreneurship education that we’re really trying to bring into the diverse programs here in the St. Johns County School District,” attendees told.

The students participated in the pitch competition and heard from keynote speakers Miss Florida Outstanding Teen 2022 Aashna Shah and business and life strategist Rob Swymer.

The day began with short, inspiring presentations by successful professionals.

Steven Hertzberg, founder of Outcome Trading, spoke about cryptocurrency, which he called “the future of finance”.

Danish Sayed, who founded financial technology startup BlackHedge, told students it’s okay to fail.

“It’s necessary sometimes,” he said. “You learn from your mistakes, and that makes you a better founder, a better person.”

St. Augustine-based Hyundai and Volkswagen managing partner Andrew DiFeo said his message to students is to be authentic and recognize that there is a wealth of free knowledge on the Internet. He pointed out that they can start their own business while still at school.

Scott Maynard, vice president of economic development for the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce, said the Chamber of Commerce is thrilled to be a sponsor of the EnterCircle Summit. He was pleased that the students were there.

“It’s so important for them to see firsthand at a young age the opportunities that are out there for them and to see role models and mentors, people who have been successful,” he said.

The summit was a project of the non-profit Sapna Foundation. The organizers announced that next year’s theme will be “Thrive With Purpose”.

The Link is a state-of-the-art place where entrepreneurs and business people work together. It is an incubator that hosts activities, events and conferences for families and businesses. It is located at 425 Town Plaza Ave., Ponte Vedra.

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