By Dorothy J. Gentry
In the words of the late, legendary performer Prince: “Life it ain’t real funky, unless it’s got that POP!”
Or in this case, unless your tennis shoes have that pop! And Chloe Mongelli’s shoes have that and more.
The Dallas ISD middle school student’s “Different Pop” idea won a virtual business sales pitch sponsored by the Dallas Mavericks, mobile banking services provider CHIME, and education technology innovator EVERFI, Inc. The Venture Entrepreneurial Expedition is an educational initiative designed to teach students to think entrepreneurially about business and life.
Mongelli was one of five students – including Olivia Brown, Iman Johnson, Roderick Linson and Amanda Ruiz – from Dallas ISD’s Ignite Middle School. These five finalists were chosen from nearly 2,000 middle-school students who entered the competition.
The students were to start a shoe company from scratch and then pitch and try to garner support – including financial – from the panel of judges. All of them had two minutes to pitch their ideas. Each participant received a pair of Curry 7 sneakers and a Seth Curry jersey.
“None of these shoes are right for my feet,” Mongelli exclaimed after opening her pitch holding several pairs of shoes then dropping them to the floor. “Hello, I’m Chloe and I’m going to be talking about my new sneaker company, Different Pop.
“So, what if I told you I could sell you your exact shoe size for your exact foot type with memory foam or gel paddings or none, based on your choosing – plus an outside waterproof base for all outside activities,” Mongelli asked the judges. “It’s also a pop of color. You believe me? I call it Different Pop because my company gives your feet the support and comfort with art.”
Mongelli continued discussing her shoe business idea, adding that all people “have different tastes, or a different pop. For $65 apiece, you can show off your own pop in a variety of colorful shoes.”
Her winning business pitch – which included sharing 10 percent of profits with investors and 10 percent with a different charity each month – also netted her a brand-new ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 Laptop computer and an Ultimate Fan Experience at a future Mavs game.
Initially speechless after finding out she was the winner, Mongelli found her voice and thanked the judges on behalf of all the participants.
“We all practiced so much for this and we all are winners at the end of this, and we all appreciated this so much for you guys just doing this for us,” she said. “We appreciate your presence so much. Thank you so much.”
Marshall congratulated the students as well. “Congratulations to all of you and Chloe, congratulations for coming in as the winner. And to everyone else, clearly you are all winners to get to this point,” she said.
“It took a lot of hard work and dedication. I am so impressed with your research and your heart for the community,” Marshall added. “You are amazing, amazing young people and our future is in good hands.”
The recent business pitch competition closed out the year-long curriculum provided digitally to nearly 2,000 middle school students in a variety of school districts throughout the DFW Metroplex. During the spring semester’s at-home learning, students were asked to build a business plan and pitch for a new sneaker brand. To do so, students evaluated the market, built a development plan and determined how to bring awareness of the new brand to their local community.
Judges scored the students based on their intro or hook, general idea, need for the product in the community, pricing, target audience, creativity and overall presentation.