ST. GEORGE — Kids, teens and college students with entrepreneurial aspirations can earn the opportunity to learn new skills and win prizes by diving into the waters of a new competition.
“Swim With the Sharks” is powered by the Saint George Market, a biannual pop-up shopping experience and small business incubator that helps generate funds for local charity organizations. Four budding entrepreneurs will be chosen to receive mentorship from business leaders along with monetary awards.
Saint George Market founder Indigo Klabanoff said the competition is the first of its kind in Southern Utah. She created Swim With the Sharks to provide a unique mentorship opportunity for business education, critical thinking and personal growth to young entrepreneurs with pillars of the local business community.
“They’ll get to see successful businesspeople in action and see how businesses are run,” she said. “Even by having a conversation with someone, you can learn a lot.”
Applicants must belong to one of four age brackets: children (ages 6-8), youth (ages 9-12), teen (ages 13-17) and college (ages 18-22). All ideas are welcome, from gifts and food to fashion and tech and everything in between.
A winner will be selected from each group and given a booth at the next Saint George Market in October, where they’ll have the opportunity to put their skills to the test by selling their products to the community.
Klabanoff and five other local business and civic leaders – Dannielle Larkin with the St. George City Council, Lori Hanna with Perks! Espresso & Smoothies, Rosie Sevier with Root for Kids, Jamie Shaw with Sport-Five and Boston Crockett with Bos Beauty – will provide mentorship to the top finishers in each age bracket as they prepare for the market.
To submit an application, visit the Saint George Market website. Applications are being accepted through Aug. 15. Winners will be selected on Sept. 1.
Although the winners receive cash prizes, Klabanoff said the true value of the competition lies in the chance to receive guidance from the mentors, who run the gamut from a politician to a coffee shop owner. Young entrepreneurs are encouraged not only to discuss ideas for their products, but also to learn about networking, goal-setting and scaling their business.
“Businesspeople are entrepreneurs and need to be a jack of all trades, so they know a lot about a lot of things,” she said. “You can throw money out there, but time is what makes it unique.”
Sevier, who serves as the volunteer and community partnership coordinator at Root for Kids, said she was inspired to be part of Swim With the Sharks because of its aim to challenge and empower young people.
“It gives them reassurance that they can do this early on,” she said. “It gives them a great start in terms of business and being entrepreneurs.”
Sevier added that the goal of the competition parallels the mission of Root for Kids, a nonprofit organization that assists families across Southern Utah through child care, early intervention and health services, among other programs. The October Saint George Market will also help raise money for Root for Kids.
Klabanoff said that along with promoting established businesses through the market, the Saint George Market team and sponsors are excited to give young innovators a platform from which to launch their entrepreneurial dreams.
“We’ve been so successful with the market that we really want to give back to the community,” she said. “I wanted to help the young people that are going to be future business owners and leaders.”
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