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CEO Students See Success at National Trade Show

Two Land of Lincoln CEO students participated in the CEONext National Trade Show Sunday in Effingham. Both got to show their products in front of a new audience and add a new experience to their entrepreneur journey.

Emma Schoth, daughter of Deb and Gene Schoth of Mount Pulaski, earned a coveted $2,500 award for her concept of toys designed for autistic and special needs children. Felipe Buenrostro, son of Kynda and Luis Buenrostro of Mount Pulaski, exhibited his company Papos Style that sells handmade goods from indigenous peoples in Mexico.

Thirty CEO students from across the Midwest gathered at the Thelma Keller Convention Center last weekend to showcase their individual businesses.

Schoth, a recent graduate of Mount Pulaski High School, was a participant in this year’s Land of Lincoln CEO class, which teaches students the fundamentals of becoming an entrepreneur.

“I was surprised to hear my name because some of the other students competing offered products that were very unique and I saw some amazing booths,” said Schoth, who added the other two students who won offered a shoe hook that fights foot oder and artistic candles.

“I was amazed by the one who made $10,000 by selling candles.”

Schoth, whose student owned business called Drake’s Toys, is a subscription service that caters to children with autism and other special needs. She knew first hand there was need when she noticed her sister having trouble finding toys for her nephew.

“The toys that were available weren’t really helping him, so I went to work,” said Schoth.

After meeting with a child psychologist in the tri-county area and doing lots of research, she found a business niche that was underserved.

Buenrostro said the recent show made him some, money but also provided a learning experience.

“I was watching the body language and most responded the same. Both older and younger ages alike were excited about my products and said they would check out my website,” said Buenrostro, who added 10 percent of the products sold will go back to the people who created the item.

Buenrostro said he is grateful for the CEO experience and has learned many valuable lessons.

“CEO has the tools to show me how to work and gave me the space to grow and network. I learned how to master basic communication skills, which many kids don’t get the opportunity to do,” continued Buenrostro, who plans to attend Loyola University in pursuit of a duel major in International Business and Global Entrepnuership.

The event showcased innovative products and services developed by CEO (Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities) students selected from 168 schools in 39 small towns and rural communities across the Midwest. Each student competed for $2,500 to be invested back into their individual business.

Rebeca Meylor, Business Development Assistant, with Midland Institute of Entrepreneurship said judges chose Schoth for the award due to the uniqueness of her product.

“The judges all agreed that Emma’s business was well thought out and she communicated it very well during her pitch,” said Meylor.

The CEONext National Trade Show is the culmination of a business, economic development and academic collaboration administered by the Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship that teaches skills of problem-solving, self-motivation, communication and imagination.

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