Club member Andrea, 16, was nervous. She had never pitched a business idea before – let alone to four business mentors with decades of experience and companies that are valued in the millions.

"It was a bit nerve-wracking in the beginning. I noticed I was talking a bit slow and mumbling," Andrea said. "But then, eventually, when I saw them engaging and smiling, it made me feel good about my product and more confident. I knew we had a good idea."

Andrea was just one of 11 Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago (BGCC) members who teamed up to pitch business ideas to a panel of successful Chicago entrepreneurs during BGCC's new entrepreneurship program, StartUp LaunchPad. The judging panel included Dr. Suhail Mohiuddin, Founder of Dentologie; Diane Primo, CEO of Purpose Brand; Quintin Primo, Chairman & CEO of Capri Investment Group; and James Valadez, CEO of Startup Rocket.

Five teams presented their business plans and were awarded seed funding ranging from $2,500 to $5,000 to bring their ideas to life and move forward with the next stage – launching their business.

"It means the world to get the funding," said participant Damarieye, 17, whose business, Angelic Lockz, is designing a kill switch to prevent cars from being stolen. "We worked really hard on this ... we really wanted to solve this issue. To be able to keep moving forward is amazing."

During StartUp LaunchPad's four-month program, members created a business idea, built a team and developed every aspect of their startup with the help of Club staff and guidance from Uncharted Learning, a nonprofit organization that provides programs and professional development to help students acquire durable, transferable skills through entrepreneurship education.

It all led up to the pitch day event, where the teams presented their ideas, business plans and even prototypes of their websites or products. After each pitch, the panel of professional entrepreneurs gave feedback to the Club members on how they can improve their product and what they should consider for their next steps.


Over the next few weeks, Club members will use the seed funding to bring their ideas to life and launch their business. 75% of each business's profits will go directly back to the youth as scholarship dollars with the remainder going to support their Club.


The judges will meet with the teams of budding entrepreneurs again in June to check on their progress and consider if an additional round of funding will be awarded to help their business grow.

Read more about their business ideas below, and watch the video to hear from our participants on their experience with the program.

Angelic Lockz

A kill switch for your car that has a GPS tracker to prevent criminals from stealing your vehicle.

Community Threads

A clothing line that helps promote local artists and businesses from the viewpoint of teens. Local artists design all the clothes. 


A mobile app that connects users with other people playing the same game and provides an instructor to improve their level of skill.

Private Panda

A therapy mobile app for teens that connects them to professionals and other teens to talk through their issues.

Snap Cap

An interchangeable brim for hats. With a singular base, you can style your hat in any way you want with different brims.

Meet the Mentors

Give Chicago's kids their next great moment, donate today!