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NFTE Names The Met's 17-Year-Old Jose Rodriguez Rhode Island Top Young Entrepreneur of 2020

Teen entrepreneurs from around the world vied for $25,000 in prizes at 15th annual National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge

New York, NY, Oct. 26, 2020 Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) has announced that 17-year-old Jose Rodriguez of Providence, RI, won the top prize at NFTE’s 15th annual National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, presented by Citi Foundation and Ernst & Young LLP (EY US), with support from PayPal. This year’s competition took place online, as 44 young entrepreneurs representing 34 businesses engaged in a virtual “pitch-off” on October 21 and 22. Competitors from Ireland, Israel, Mexico and Singapore joined students from the U.S. who had prevailed in a series of local and regional pitch competitions held online last spring. After quarterfinal and semifinal elimination rounds, the three finalists presented their businesses last night to a panel of five VIP judges and were collectively awarded a total of $25,000 to help grow their businesses or further their educational goals.

Rodriguez, a student at the Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center (known as "The MET") in Providence, took first place with his business plan and pitch for Tasium, a company that develops specialized clothing for people on the autism spectrum. Rodriguez was awarded cash prizes totaling $12,000. Inspired by his younger brother, who is autistic, Rodriguez created a solution for people with autism and ADHD who need a readily-available outlet for their anxiety or hyperactivity. To avoid relying on fidget toys that are often lost or misplaced, he designed clothing with built-in sensory stimulation tools to release distractions and energy without interrupting others.

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