Timothy Hernandez noticed a problem, and he set about to solve it.
Not too long ago, the 17-year-old Zephyrhills High School senior was undergoing safety training as a YMCA pool lifeguard.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) masks kept falling off during tutorials.
“It was a real inconvenience,” he said.
Strap-based CPR masks didn’t fare much better, said Hernandez, who currently works at the East Pasco YMCA and the New Tampa YMCA.
His solution: CPRGo, a mask with an automatic seal, via suction cup features.
“It makes CPR a simple and more efficient process,” Hernandez said. “It also ensures the victim is getting a sufficient amount of air. “
In short, “Saving lives has never been so easy.”
For the concept — yet to be prototyped and patented — Hernandez won first place and $2,500 in Pasco’s Young Entrepreneur Finals, held April 25 at the Land O’ Lakes High School Culinary Arts.
The inaugural competition showcased seven students from Pasco County Schools’ business and entrepreneurship principles program.
It gave contestants an opportunity to present their unique business idea in a traditional slideshow format to a live audience and panel of judges — startup experts representing Pasco County and the Tampa Bay region.
Hannah White, a Pasco High School senior, earned second place and $1,000 for Organized Design, which refers to planners that can be customized entirely.
Jackson Rossi, a senior at Mitchell High School, received third place and $500 for Brij, an app for social media marketing.
Other finalists were Justin Hall and Katelyn Ortiz, of Sunlake High; Taylor Townsend, of River Ridge High; and, Alex Violini, of Ridgewood High; each were winners at school-level competitions, held April 3 through April 10.
Those attending the competition included representatives from Pasco County Schools, CareerSource Pasco/Hernando, the Pasco Education Foundation, the Pasco Economic Development Council, the USF Stavros Center, and Pasco SCORE. The name SCORE is based on an acronym for Service Corps of Retired Executives.
Loosely based off ABC’s hit TV show “Shark Tank,” each student had 10 minutes to present his or her startup.
Judges then lobbed critiques, criticisms and suggestions, for all the audience to hear.
The finalists later were evaluated on a 10-point scale on 10 factors, including professionalism, the viability of their enterprise, and their ability to back it with research on startup costs, revenue, distribution, customer base, competitors and the business and/or social impact of their venture.
Hernandez received high marks for his revenue and cost projections model, and his ability to identify a target market — lifeguards and other emergency responders.
For the judges, choosing just three winners wasn’t easy.
“The kids that did this — great job,” said Steven Hickman, president/CEO of First National Bank of Pasco. “I’m just thrilled to see the quality and the poise.”
Fellow judge Mike Lewis, chairman of SCORE Chapter 439, was likewise impressed with each presentation, praising students’ thought process, concepts and business plans.
“They are absolutely to be commended,” he said.
About 200 Pasco County high school students participated in the entrepreneurship curriculum during the 2016-2017 school year, said Terry Aunchman, director of career and technical education for Pasco County.
That figure, along with the Young Entrepreneurs event, is expected to grow, as the program will be introduced in five more high schools next school year — Cypress Creek, Gulf, Fivay, Land O’ Lakes and Wiregrass Ranch.
“The competition is going to be amped up just a little bit,” Aunchman said. “We built so much excitement around this that the other schools are like, ‘We want to get in on the action.’”
Aunchman also plans to introduce the program to several middle and elementary schools in the district, hoping to “get kids engaged, thinking outside of the box and solving problems.”
Meanwhile, Hernandez — like other finalists — appears to have a bright future ahead of him.
He plans to attend Saint Leo University this fall, majoring in criminal justice.
His minor? Business.
Published May 3, 2017