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Young Entrepreneurs Academy Crowns New Winner

Apr 22, 2024 10:47PM ● By Jeanne Fratello

2024 Young Entrpreneurs Academy winner Maia Rocha. Photo via Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce.

The 2023-24 Young Entrepreneurs Academy class has wrapped up its season with a new winner, Maia Rocha, who will bring her business to the national competition next month.

Rocha, a junior at Mira Costa High School, developed a productivity app called "Doing Done," for which she was awarded a start-up investment of $1,700 by the YEA! investor panel.

Available on the Apple App Store and via the website, the app is designed to aid users in managing their tasks efficiently. Its design incorporates "pomodoro" and Kanban time management techniques that Rocha said have been instrumental in her own academic success, especially in managing her ADHD. These methods have helped her excel in multiple AP classes, she said, sparking her desire to help others achieve similar success.

“I originally made the app for students like me, but the more I talk about it, the more I learn that it could be good for anyone who has a list of things to do and keep track of, and who sometimes needs a little motivation to get started and get finished," said Rocha.

Rocha will represent Manhattan Beach at the Saunders Scholars national YEA! competition in Rochester, New York this May.

Rocha follows a long line of winners from Manhattan Beach. Last year’s local winner, Mira Costa student Lila Mokhtari, came in first place in the national competition and received a $30,000 scholarship to the Rochester Institute of Technology, full tuition to the Golisano School for Business and Entrepreneurship at RIT. a $5,000 cash prize, and the title of "America's Next Top Young Entrepreneur." Mokhtari's organic "motivational" soap line for kids, Maji, has also been featured in Forbes magazine.

In 2022, MBMS 6th grader Dallas Nurre placed third in the national competition and won a $20,000 scholarship to the Rochester Institute of Technology.

And in 2020, Mira Costa High School student Taylor Ryan placed eighth in the national competition with her company, Unstoppable Protective Gear, which makes protective inserts for sports bras for contact sports like lacrosse.

Teens Pitch Businesses at "Shark Tank-style" Competition

Rocha was one of 23 teens, representing 21 businesses, participating in this year's Manhattan Beach YEA! cohort. 

Earlier this month, the young entrepreneurs pitched their businesses to investors at "Shark Tank"-style event. The investors - who committed real money to the fledgling businesses - included representatives from Kinecta Federal Credit Union, Manhattan Beach Toyota, Manhattan Beach Rotary, and the City of Manhattan Beach.

Mira Costa sophomore Reece Gordon was runner-up with his business Cover Clamp, a tool for golfers; followed by Manhattan Beach Middle School 8th grader Emily Lara-Donis with her business StepProtect, a shoe insert for people who play sports on artificial turf.

YEA! Teaches Students to "Make A Job, Not Take A Job"

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) is a 501(c)3 program that teaches middle and high school students how to start and run their own businesses.

The Manhattan Beach Young Entrepreneurs Academy is sponsored by the Manhattan Beach
Chamber of Commerce. Manhattan Beach's YEA! program has has 50+ volunteer professionals and organizations that support the students (mentors, designers, speakers, CEO panel, business plan reviewers, mock investors, investor panelists, etc.) to help them acquire the tools they need to succeed.

During the nine-month program, students meet for three hours once a week after school to learn all the strategies for creating and starting their own legal business. Students develop business ideas, write business plans, conduct market research, pitch their plans to a panel of investors for startup funds, and launch their own fully formed companies and social movements.

The program tuition is $895. Scholarships are provided by Manhattan Beach Rotary.

The national YEA! program, founded in 2004 at the University of Rochester with support from the Kauffman Foundation, serves thousands of students nationwide. In 2008, the Saunders Foundation became a national sponsor and partner of the program. According to its founders, YEA! strives to bridge the business and educational communities to fulfill its mission of teaching more students how to "make a job, not just take a job." For more information, visit

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