Gabriela is an 18-year-old senior at Riverview High School who had zero interest in owning or operating a business before an email landed in her inbox nearly one year ago that helped her discover her entrepreneurial spirit.
"A friend told me about the Perlman Price Young Entrepreneurs (PYE) program at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties, but I didn't think the program was for me at first," Gabriela explains. "It wasn't until I received an email from Ms. Jordan at The Club saying that I was recommended for PYE that I decided to give it a try."
In PYE, high school students like Gabriela can learn how to be their own bosses. The program is offered three times each year and features 15 sessions of internationally-recognized curriculum with practical business advice and guidance from renowned entrepreneurs.
Throughout the program, teens identify business opportunities, develop a written and visual business plan and compete for seed funding to launch their business. One to three participants from each class are chosen to receive full or partial funding from local investors to bring their vision to life. Gabriela was awarded start-up funds during the Spring 2020 session.
"My favorite part of PYE was creating my business plan for my Latin food truck called Urban Tasty Road," she says. "The program allowed me to expand my knowledge on business and have fun at the same time. I learned presentation skills, leadership, networking and how to tackle a financial workbook. The whole experience was really eye-opening."
With the seed funding and support from her parents, Gabriela was able to cover the down payment for the food truck.
"My parents were my biggest fans throughout my PYE experience," she says. "They took great interest in the business plan and decided to invest me, too. Now, all of my family members play such important roles in Urban Tasty Road. It has grown into a family business."
Together, Gabriela and her family searched high and low for the perfect truck.
"We were referred to many places while telling friends and looking online," she says. "We traveled to Miami and Tennessee to check different companies that made customizable food trucks. In the end, we decided to use a company located in Texas. It is everything we imagined."
Once the truck was secured, the family focused on developing the menu before opening night in early March 2021.
"Our menu consists of burgers, sandwiches, traditional Venezuelan dishes, tacos and some desserts," Gabriela says. "Our crowd favorite is the Urban burger. It has two different types of meats and is delicious!"
By the time opening night came around, the family was ready to serve and debut Gabriela's vision.
"We had a great turn out! It was extremely busy," she says. "We had a lot of customers. We told friends, family, friends of friends, people we met at the grocery store... literally everyone we know."
As Gabriela reflects on her PYE journey that led to a fully-operating business, she looks forward to growing Urban Tasty Road in the future.
"We plan on expanding the business and either opening a restaurant or another food truck in the next two years," she says. "We'll also rent the food truck for parties, fairs and other private events."
With such great success, Gabriela's plans for life after high school graduation have slightly changed.
"After high school, I plan to go to college in Ohio and then go to grad school from there," she says. "But before I go, I plan to stay for a year and work with my family in the business."
Gabriela is an excellent example of how our programs and support from local investors can help our community's future leaders discover their passions and achieve their full potential.
"I really want to thank PYE, Ms. Jordan, The Club and its supporters for believing in me and for always checking in with me," she says. "I am extremely happy I received that email a year ago from Ms. Jordan because now I'm set up for success."
Urban Tasty Road is open Thursday to Sunday from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. in Bradenton, typically at 5303 14th St. W. Be sure to follow Urban Tasty Road on Instagram to stay posted on where they will be serving next!
Were you once presented with an opportunity that totally changed the trajectory of your life like Gabriela? If so, we invite you to see the impact of our programs for yourself. Call us at 941-366-3911 to schedule a Club tour.