Walter O’Brien, CEO and founder of Scorpion Computer Services, Inc. and executive producer of CBS’s hit television show, Scorpion, will address over 500 high-school students from across the Southland at Project ECHO’s 12th annual High School Entrepreneur’s Business Plan Competition. The finals event where O’Brien will keynote is scheduled for Sunday, April 17th at UCLA Anderson School of Management.
Project Entrepreneurial Concepts Hands On! (ECHO), established in 1996, has seen year-over-year growth in its year-round entrepreneurship program that provides high-school students with in-demand business skills. This year, over 100 teams from 20 high schools will compete in the two-day competition. Project ECHO’s annual competition provides Southern California high-school students the opportunity to pitch their business ventures to prominent members of the local business community who serve as volunteer venture-capitalist judges.
“In order to meet the evolving business ventures of our young students, ECHO has developed a thorough entrepreneurship curriculum combined with business-boot camps, and seminar-style mentor days that round off the academic curriculum,” said Diane Quast, ECHO’s Executive Director. “Students are given a complete platform to ideate, create, develop, and pitch their businesses.”
Project ECHO’s marquis event is the two-day High School Entrepreneurs’ Business Plan Competition where teams will compete for cash start-up funds. A two-part evaluation process assesses the student teams’ written business plan along with their formal pitch, which are weighted equally. A total of $6,250 will be awarded to ten teams, that will include an overall competition winner, and first, second and third place in each category of competition.
“Project ECHO is a shining example of what makes America so innovative,” said Walter O’Brien. “I’m humbled to contribute towards inspiring young entrepreneurs and the creativity and tenacity that accompanies it. Being smart is cool,” O’Brien added.
Project ECHO offers a hands-on year round program in business and entrepreneurship with the aim of providing teens from various socioeconomic backgrounds and academic achievement the opportunity to experience entrepreneurship. During their ECHO year, high school students are mentored by M.B.A. candidates from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. This is a collective attempt to provide students with useful skills in business that will positively influence their decision to continue their education beyond high school while opening doors for career opportunities.
The preliminary business plan competition took place on Sunday, March 13, 2016, at Loyola Marymount University’s Hilton Hall and the High School Entrepreneur’s Business Plan Finals Competition will take place on Sunday, April 17, 2016 from 9:00AM to 3:00PM at UCLA Anderson School of Management. The event is open to the public. For more information, or to learn about sponsorship opportunities, call Project ECHO at (424) 238-1884.
PROJECT ECHO (Entrepreneurial Concepts Hand On), is a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization that was established in 1996 with the goal of re-engaging teens that are innately not college bound and expand their career and academic options beyond high school. Today, the organization engages teenagers from diverse academic, economic and geographic communities. Project ECHO partners with high schools and their teachers to offer a collaborative approach to teaching a broad spectrum of STEM related academics in a fun and meaningful way. Its project related course work helps students acquire useful vocational, business and entrepreneurship training and experience. It has grown from a small program initiated at Santa Monica High School to a multi-faceted business and entrepreneurship academy and vibrant business plan competition. This year, ECHO has enrolled more than 500 students from 20 different high schools from five Southern California counties. This is our biggest year yet, and what an accomplishment as we celebrate our 20th anniversary! As a small grass roots charity, Project ECHO raises 100% of its annual operating budget every year with the mission of keeping teens engaged in high school and presenting business and entrepreneurship as a career.
Founded in the depth of the Great Depression, UCLA Anderson School of Management now ranks among the top-tier business schools in the world. An award-winning faculty renowned for research and teaching, highly selective admissions, successful alumni and world-class facilities combine to provide an extraordinary learning environment in the heart of Southern California. Anderson M.B.A. candidates partner with ECHO by volunteering to serve as mentors to the hundreds of high school students who participate every year.
For further information regarding UCLA Anderson School of Management visit their website here.
Walter O’Brien is the CEO of Scorpion Computer Services, CEO of Scorpion Studios, the founder of ConciergeUp.com, and Executive Producer of Scorpion, the hit CBS-TV drama with over 26 million television viewers that is inspired by O’Brien’s life. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has certified Walter O’Brien as being a person of national interest to the United States and granted him an Extraordinary Ability EB 1-1 Visa. O’Brien has worked with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, plus Navy and Air Force systems to employ his artificial-intelligence systems to protect American military personnel. In addition, he has worked with multiple Fortune 500 companies including the world’s largest mutual fund, Fujitsu, Trados, Oracle Corporation, Baltimore Technologies, and Critical Path. O’Brien serves as chairman or board member for Houston Technology Center, Strike Force Solutions, Talentorum Alliance, and Lawloop.
O’Brien regularly donates his time and talent to helping charities and the community in general to encourage new generations to celebrate intelligence.