Finalist Q&A: Energy Cafe

The Energy Cafe is an internet cafe next to a high school. The entire concept developed with the collaboration of the high school students who would become the customers. The high school kids helped in every aspect of building and opening this cafe, giving them a real world application for some of the stuff they are learning in school.

How did you come up with the idea for your business, and what, or who, is your main source of motivation?
The energy Café originated when I saw a business space for rent within walking distance from the local high school. I thought it a good idea to ask the students what they might want to have available to them, since they would more than likely be a good source of customers due to the location. From that point, the energy café idea took off and continues to expand, just as the logo itself suggests. The high school students, parents, and teachers were very enthusiastic in participating in the development of the business and continue to be supportive and contribute to the furthering of the long range goal for the café. However, it is these young people who are the main source of motivation for keeping the café alive and flourishing with new activities and resources that they introduce for development through their own ingenuity.

What is a unique feature of your business?
The most unique feature of the energy café is that it is constantly changing because new ideas and contributions are continually added, rearranged, or exchanged. Everyone who enters the door, from young children to seniors will smile and comment on how much fun it is to see the most recent adjustment. Since the high school youth are instrumental in contributing the ideas and the effort to implement these additions, the café changes in much the same way that these kids grow, gradually and continually, with love, patience, and most of all, cooperation.

What are your thoughts on the connection between small business and the local community?
I see the café as a catalyst to unity for teenage youth, parents, teachers, and local business people. Because the concept for the café is to empower the youth through administering their ideas for business, members of the surrounding community have come forward in participating in leading these kids with their respective professional skills in the administration of café planning. For instance, an administrator from the local university in charge of the computer networking for the university volunteered to work with the youth to set up a network within the café. This example is just one of many that continue to occur, joyfully bringing the youth and the adults a means in which to share ideas and experience; one that also provides a tangible result that both can witness and claim contribution for together..

Why should the Idea Cafe regulars vote for you?
The idea café regulars should vote for the energy café because it is a creation of the young people of our country, the future business leaders of our world, many of whom may have never thought it possible are now able to see how working together for a common cause can result in the manifestation of real dreams. They deserve the recognition and the café needs the money to keep the doors open for these young people.


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