Locate Finger Lakes Business Journal

Top Entrepreneurs in Cayuga’s First YEA! Class Ready for National Competition

The two students and business partners who were named the top entrepreneurs in Cayuga Community College’s first Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) are ready to compete this weekend in a national scholarship competition.

Alexander Church and Johntae Smith co-founded EZ-Carries in the YEA! program at Cayuga, and are now ready to pitch their business at the 12th annual Saunders Scholars National Conference & Competition on Saturday, October 17. Students competing in the national contest can receive scholarships and start-up prize packages for their businesses.

Church, 14, who attends Union Springs Central School District, and Smith, 12, who attends Auburn Enlarged City School District, developed the plan for EZ-Carries during the eight-month YEA! program. Earlier this year their business, which creates and provides products for people with temporary or permanent mobility difficulties, was named the top enterprise in Cayuga’s class by a panel of local investors.

Church & Smith

Alexander Church, left, and Johntae Smith, right, co-founded EZ-Carries in Cayuga Community College’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy. They will compete Saturday, October 17, in the Saunders Scholars National Conference & Competition.

Church and Smith have dedicated the past months to growing their business and developing their first product, the EZ-Carrier, which is a water bottle holder that attaches to crutches, canes, wheelchairs and walkers. They’ve also been preparing for the Saunders Competition.

We’ve been practicing our presentation, making promotional videos for the website, and taking orders for and selling the EZ-Carrier,” said Smith. “We’ve run through our presentation, and we’re excited for Saturday’s competition.”

We’ve dedicated ourselves to our business, whether it’s working on filing our patent or developing and selling more EZ-Carriers,” said Church. “The whole time, though, this competition has been on our mind, and we’ve spent the past few months preparing. We feel strong about it, but there’s definitely some nerves as well that come with it.”

Church and Smith are scheduled to present during the Saunders Competition at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 17. Their presentation can be viewed live on the Young Entrepreneurs Academy’s YouTube page, and a link to view the event can also be found at Anyone who wants to vote for the People’s Choice Award can register for free at

Founded in 2004, YEA! helps middle and high school students grow their entrepreneurial skills by working with instructors and local business leaders. Students design their business proposal, conduct market research, write business plans and pitch to investors. Lyons National Bank, through LOCATE Finger Lakes, provided full $1,000 tuition scholarships for all the students enrolled in YEA! at Cayuga.

To learn more about EZ-Carries, visit their website at To learn more about YEA!, visit For students interested in next year’s YEA! at Cayuga, email Media and Public Relations Associate Andrew Poole at

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) is a 501(C) 3 offering groundbreaking year-long classes that teach middle and high school students how to start and run their own businesses. Throughout the class, students develop business ideas, write business plans, conduct market research, pitch their plans to a panel of investors for startup funds, and launch and run their own, fully formed companies and social movements. The project-based program empowers students to take charge of their futures.

Founded in 2004 at the University of Rochester with support from the Kauffman Foundation, YEA! today serves thousands of students nationwide. In 2011, the United States Chamber of Commerce Foundation became a national sponsor and partner of the Academy to help celebrate the spirit of enterprise among today’s youth and tomorrow’s future leaders.

YEA! bridges the business and educational communities to fulfill its mission of teaching more students how to make a job, not just take a job. YEA! is made possible by The Kauffman Foundation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the E. Philip Saunders Foundation. For more information, visit

About Cayuga Community College

Founded in 1953, Cayuga Community College is one of 64 accredited institutions that make up the State University of New York (SUNY) system. Cayuga offers open access and an affordable gateway to higher education, with courses and degree programs offered at campuses in Auburn and Fulton, NY and online. Cayuga Community College provides a strong liberal arts foundation for further study and career preparation. The College also addresses identified community needs through targeted training and personal enrichment programs. By sustaining academic excellence within a supportive learning environment, the College, a careful steward of human and fiscal resources, serves as a valuable asset to the development of our local, regional, and global communities.

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