Salesianum School senior Christopher Walker has had an interest both in carpentry and entrepreneurship for some time.
Earlier this spring, Walker, 18, of Hockessin, had a chance to combine the two during Delaware Technical & Community College's Diamond Challenge for High School Entrepreneurs for New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties. The Diamond Challenge was created to provide high school students the opportunity to explore entrepreneurship as a future career path.
Walker's business teacher at Sallies, George Horn, suggested that Walker participate in the Del. Tech challenge given his entrepreneurial interests. Walker agreed but, he initially had a hard time finding a partner willing to write the five-page business plan required for the competition. He eventually found a willing participant in Sallies classmate Michael Ryan.
Walker said he had the framework for a business plan in his mind called Woodcraft Supply, an idea he obtained from his favorite carpentry website, woodcraft.com. When Horn brought up Del. Tech's entrepreneurial challenge, Walker thought of woodcraft.com's franchise page that laid out how to start one's own woodcraft retail store.
As he formulated their business plan, Walker sounded his ideas off of Ryan, whose critical commentary helped perfect the plan.
"He helped solidify some of the ideas that were kind of hazy," Walker said Wednesday.
Then, they presented their plan to a panel of judges and try to convince them that their plan was worth an investment.
When all was said and done, the Sallies team won $500 in Del. Tech's preliminary round and earned a bid to the finals and luncheon held at the University of Delaware.
At UD, Walker had to make his pitch again before a panel of judges who had made it in the business world. He also enjoyed observing and learning from some phenomenal business pitches made by college students at the University of Delaware's Hen Hatch, which the Diamond Challenge was modeled after.
"I wasn't among the top five at finals but it was a good time," Walker said. "It was fun. I thought the whole process was cool to be part of."
Among other things, Walker said he benefited from being put on the spot with his public speaking skills at the Del. Tech Diamond Challenge.
"Public speaking is by no means my forté," he said. "I actually get nervous about presenting something in front of my teachers and my class. But I did it and I had a good time."
Walker, a 4.0 GPA student, has been winding down his senior year at Salesianum and has successfully fought off senioritis. With the school year nearly complete, he looks forward to surfing at the beach this summer and, beyond that, attending the University of Tampa, where he plans to major in business and pursue his entrepreneurial passion.
Page 2 of 2 - "One of the things I've always held for the future is I want to work for myself and make my own schedule," Walker said. "After going to Catholic school for the past 12 plus years and having a rigorous schedule, I want to set my own rules for bit. I want to be my own man.
"As far as actual fields, I love carpentry and if I could open up a cabinet shop and make furniture for people that would be awesome. I've thought about landscaping and I've thought about a weird combination of the two. I know that sounds weird, but you never know."
DELAWARE TECH DIAMOND CHALLENGE
A broad coalition of partners including Delaware Technical Community College, Junior Achievement of Delaware, Glasgow High School, Delaware’s Department of Education, and two University of Delaware programs – the Center for Economic Education & Entrepreneurship, and the Horn Program in Entrepreneurship worked to develop the Diamond Challenge for High School Entrepreneurs. Twenty-four teams representing thirteen Delaware high schools competed in the preliminary rounds this spring.
The New Castle County winners were:
Academy, Wilmington Friends School: Chase Conley, Roth Johnson, Luke Morgan and Greg Szumel (Advisor: Lynn Puritz-Fine)
Service with Perks, Wilmington Friends School: Emilio Ergueta, Elijah Jabbar-Bey and Fiona Nagaswami (Advisor: Javier Ergueta)
Four Corners, Tall Oaks Classical School: Hannah Crimson, Sabrina Myoda, Jaime Weber and Valerie Ziegler (Advisor: Laureen Davison)
Woodcraft Supply, Salesianum School: Michael Ryan and Chris Walker (Advisor: George Horn)
Visit Delaware Tech’s website, www.dtcc.edu, and scroll down to “What’s Happening” to view photos of the winners.