TPHS students excel in business competition

Born in the TPHS Advanced Business class, CharCUTE, a gourmet charcuterie board business founded by four TPHS students, was one of 15 high school businesses from across the nation selected to attend the Junior Achievement National Student Leadership Summit in Washington D.C. over the summer.

SWEET VICTORY: Sofia Serrano, Carly Marks, Aleyna Laba and Morgan Johnson (left to right) showcase their charcuterie board business at the Junior Achievement National Student Leadership Summit in Washington D.C. Their business, CharCUTE, received the highest grade in their TPHS Advanced Business class and placed first at the JA regional level.

CharCUTE was founded by Morgan Johnson (12), Aleyna Laba (12), Carly Marks (12) and Sofia Serrano (‘22) for an end-of-year project in their business class. Given the task of building a company, the students took the classic charcuterie board — a platter of meats and cheeses arranged in an aesthetic pattern — and redesigned it into a candyboard. They have since expanded their business to include customizable boards and traditional cheese platters.

“We wanted to do something more unique because there already were charcuterie board businesses, so we didn’t want to do just meat and cheese,” Johnson, the manager of CharCUTE, said.

The girls’ path to nationals began when they earned the highest score for CharCUTE out of all of the other businesses at the TPHS pitch day, a presentation required of Advanced Business students. After that win, they entered CharCUTE in Junior Achievement (JA) San Diego, a national non-profit competition for student business owners. At JA San Diego they placed first, beating 30 other teams, and were selected from 75 other businesses from across the United States to attend JA Nationals in Washington D.C.

“I never would have expected to go to Washington D.C.,” Johnson said. “We now have friends from all over the country.”

Though they did not place at nationals, they presented their product to a panel of judges through interviews, a trade show booth and a pitch day.

“I gained a lot of confidence from doing all the public speaking,” Marks, the financial officer of CharCUTE, said.

The businesses were judged on a portfolio that included a pitch deck, a business plan and a commercial. Having completed those three items in class, they embarked on a new adventure creating a trade show booth. The booth was displayed in the Capitol Building to business executives and senators. The pressure was on to stand out in a sea of other businesses

“A lot of other companies had more serious topics, we came in and brought a fun element to it,” Laba, CharCUTE’s marketing officer, said. “People kept coming back to us because we were colorful and bright and had candy and who doesn’t want candy?”

Since returning from Washington D.C., CharCUTE hopes to start shipping its boards across the country to eager customers they met at JA Nationals. The CharCUTE executives could not have guessed their business would end up where it is today. They are currently receiving approximately 10 orders a month and have made $1,500.

“[There was] a range of how seriously people in our [TPHS] class took [the Advanced Business project],” Marks said. “Some people did it as a class project to get the grade but we really took it above and beyond.”

8 thoughts on “TPHS students excel in business competition

  1. Thanks for posting. I really enjoyed reading it, especially because it addressed my problem. It helped me a lot and I hope it will help others too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous post Post Beach Eats
Next post Day in the Life: Football Team