BILLINGS — High school entrepreneurs had the opportunity to pitch their ideas in Billings Wednesday to a group of judges for a chance to win money to grow their businesses.
In its second year, eight groups of students were at Petro Theater at MSU Billings for the Hive competition, created by Valley Credit Union. The competition aims to inspire high schoolers to present their companies and grow local Billings businesses.
“We teach these kids that they need to be able to follow their dreams. Take a passion and make a job out of it,” said Brandon Scala, vice president of business development for Valley Credit Union.
Danielle Brower, 17, won first place and $5,000 at the Hive competition last year with her business Nellie Nicole Designs. She sells stickers, clothing and lip balm holders. Brower never imagined she would be in the position she is now.
“When I started Nellie Nicole Designs in 2020, I definitely didn’t think that it was going to become my entire life,” Brower said. “[Selling] all across Montana and just the U.S. in general. I believe I am in all 50 states.”
Brower said she averages 80-to-100 sales a week. She operates out of her bedroom but does have some items for sale at her mother’s business Rock Creek Soaps at 2319 Fourth Ave. N.
“Her business has just taken off. She definitely benefited from the event,” Scala said.
And that is exactly the hope for all competitors in the Hive.
This year, the business pitch by a Skyview High School student, Holiday Help, won first place. Holiday Help hopes to offer packages for people to purchase, and the business will come to decorate your home for holidays or celebrations and provide storage for decorations.
The second place winner received $1,500 and was another Skyview student business #YouMatter. A bracelet company with bigger goals in mind to discuss suicide awareness in schools.
Big Sky Junk won third place and received $1,000. Big Sky Junk has hopes of one day being a service to pick up unwanted items from homes and take them to the landfill.