Alex Ferriera, Brandon Rossi and Justin Lyle had six minutes to talk about their plan to launch a nonprofit, ChangeBound, at Event Santa Cruz featuring “Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow” Thursday in the Museum of Discovery in the Capitola Mall. (Dan Coyro — Santa Cruz Sentinel)
By Jondi Gumz, Santa Cruz Sentinel
CAPITOLA>> At 18, Max Bowman is a graphic designer with a sleek minimalistic style making money for his work.
At 17, Auden Heitzler is a toymaker selling her Sleepy Animal stuffed creatures on Etsy and doing jobs on commission.
At 15, Simon Gilbert is a photographer who likes shooting action sports and gets paid for his work at J2P Media.
Something is inspiring an entrepreneurial mindset among the next generation.
Alex Ferriera, 19, Brandon Rossi, 19, and Justin Lyle, 18, who are working on a startup in a Scotts Valley incubator, want to start a nonprofit, ChangeBound, to give young people resources so they can launch their own businesses.
Event Santa Cruz founder Matthew Swinnerton showcased these entrepreneurs of tomorrow along with young musical talent Thursday night for about 60 people at the Children’s Museum of Discovery at the Capitola Mall.
Sarah Rose, an 18-year-old singer/songwriter from Capitola, is ready to perform at Event Santa Cruz featuring “Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow” Thursday in the Children’s Museum of Discovery at Capitola Mall. (Dan Coyro — Santa Cruz Sentinel)
The evening kicked off with Matt Ruiz, 18, and his band Flower Crown, with two guys from San Francisco, a singer with agile dance moves and a drummer.
Ruiz, who sports Buddy Holly glasses, regularly has gigs at the Tannery Art Bar playing guitar, and works on theater sound and light. He raps, too.
The audience broke into applause when Zohar Wouk, Abe Jellinek and Abe Karplus, the teens featured in the Sentinel in January, told how they reached their $20,000 goal on Kickstarter in 20 minutes and eventually raised $60,000 for The Kinetic to reinvent the light glove.
Wearing gloves and waving their hands to music, they showed how the lights change color and patterns.
“How much is it?” one woman asked.
A set of 10 lights retails for $159.
The Kinetic team, which built a community of 9,000 fans on Facebook, is hustling to deliver nearly 400 orders in May.
“Music is what I do,” said Sarah Rose, 18, a singer-songwriter in Capitola who sang her own composition about heartbreak in a distinctively husky voice, accompanying herself on the keyboard.
Oliver Mueller Tuescher, 18, who played the guitar, is equally passionate about music. He plans a trip to Iceland, fascinated by the culture, the cold and the isolation, to make a musical recording.
“Digital media is my thing,” said Bowman, who discovered graphic design as a junior at Aptos High.
He created a striking poster with a flame and fork for the “Fire It Up” fundraiser for the Regional Occupational Program culinary showcase and is working on his portfolio, hoping to land a scholarship at Academy of Art University in San Francisco.
Heitzler, who lives in Bonny Doon, attends Cabrillo College and works in a fabric store, has blue hair and a vivid imagination.
“Sometimes I wish something existed but it doesn’t, so I make it,” she said.
Gilbert will be in a First Friday art show at The Nook Salon in Santa Cruz in May and June. He’s gotten up at 4 a.m. to get just the right shot before the moon sets. He said David Dennis of Ventana Surfboards gave him an assignment that got him published.
The ChangeBound guys shared lessons they learned. Rossi said an incubator atmosphere is important, Lyle advised making good choices and Ferriera emphasized persisting despite setbacks.
“You call your own shots,” said Cabrillo student Courtney Laschkewitsch, who has a notebook full of ideas, explaining why entrepreneurship appeals to her.
“I come from a long line of people who don’t want people to tell them what to do,” said Kaya Lindsay, 22, who assisted Swinnerton and has her own social media business.
Cita Rasul, who came to support her son Matt Ruiz, said she was “overwhelmed” by the presenters’ maturity, enthusiasm and wisdom.