ANDERSON — As some of the prime targets of bullying, high schoolers are likely to be best able to identify solutions.
Brandon Boynton believes he found such a solution to the problem at his own school. Now he's being handsomely rewarded for it.
Boynton received $2,050 in start-up grants for his idea, the BullyBox, from a panel of investors Thursday night at the Young Entrepreneurs Academy Investor Event at the Flagship Center. Boynton, along with seven other teens, pitched six business ideas they developed through their months of training in the academy.
Boynton's grant, more than twice what he requested in his presentation, was the largest donation from the panel at the event, and earned Boynton a trip to South Florida in May to compete as a semifinalist for the Saunders Scholarship Competition.
The Young Entrepreneurs Academy is a nationwide nine-month program geared toward preparing high schoolers for the business world by helping them develop invention ideas and entrepreneurial skills. The program holds three-hour classes every week, in addition to other events like field trips.
This is the inaugural year for the Madison County YEA, which is the second YEA group to be formed in Indiana. Program Manager Angela Barbosa called Thursday night the key event of the year for teens in the academy.
"Our economy is based on small businesses, and we want to contribute to a resurgence of the economy, particularly in this area," Barbosa said. "Even if (the teens) don't go on to be business owners, they will see business differently and be able to contribute at a much higher level in the business world."
During his presentation, Boynton, a sophomore at Pendleton Heights, asked the panelists to imagine being in high school — a time that should be filled with fun and friendship — and dreading coming to class every day for fear of bullying. He went on to describe his mobile application, The BullyBox, which allows students and parents to anonymously report acts of bullying to their school. The app allows the sender to submit a picture of the act, which could be physical or over social media. After winning the semifinalist berth, Boynton said he felt overwhelmed.