Last November, Fountain Valley High School hosted a trade show and provided the opportunity for various Virtual Enterprise programs to showcase their creative business ideas. Orange County’s first mini-trade show showcased 23 Virtual Enterprise businesses.
“Through our hands-on, task-based curricula, students test drive potential careers and develop in-demand skills and competencies that post-secondary institutions and employers are seeking,” VE teacher Sarah McCance said. “By managing the day-to-day operations of a company, students not only develop business skills and an entrepreneurial mindset, they also identify career pathways that align with their interests, talents and aspirations.”
Through time, money and commitment, VE students learn the expectations of running a business in today’s global economy. This year, FVHS presents two VE companies: Baron Brew, run by the zero-period VE class, and Bonsai Bento, run by the second-period VE class. Each business is student-led and staffed, while McCance guides the students through all the aspects of running a company.
Through their motto “Breakfast for you,” Baron Brew, led by students from the zero-period Virtual Enterprise 1 class, provides a cafe delivery campus for staff on FVHS’s campus. For staff who cannot get breakfast before they leave for school, Baron Brew provides a source of nutrition to prevent hunger from affecting concentration and stress. Five percent of Baron Brew’s profits is donated to the Children’s Hospital of Orange County.
Through Baron Brew’s order form, staff can place orders for warm meals to start their day off with breakfast. The names of many menu items reflect ideas related to the Baron mascot of FVHS.
Some of the main dishes include a Monarch’s Muffin, a banana nut, blueberry and chocolate chip muffin; Golden Egg Sandwich with sausage, egg and cheese; or Dynasty’s Donuts, donuts with glaze, chocolate icing and sprinkles. Sides can include croissants, fresh fruit and protein bars with options for drinks ranging from hot chocolate to coffee and tea.
Baron Brew’s goal is to become one of the top 50 VE companies in California and win awards at future trade shows. The FVHS trade show provided the company with an opportunity to learn and improve for future trade shows. This included practicing the elevator pitch, a short presentation describing the business, and persuading the various consumers to buy their product.
“Our sales team was great, and we got tons of sales. [We] had a few technical issues with the website which we got fixed right away. We knocked over the lights once, but quickly got it back thanks to our staff. Overall, I think it went very well, and I personally think that [Reyes] did a great job during the elevator pitch,” freshman and Chief Operating Officer Micah Yeung said.
One of the biggest successes for Baron Brew came from the construction of their trade show booth.
“Our main success this year was definitely our first trade show booth which was beautiful,” freshman and Chief Executive Officer Michael Carreno Reyes said. “I’m beyond happy that our team was able to collaborate and make such an outstanding booth… we designed [the booth] in under a week [and] our booth came out perfect and beautiful.”
Run by the second-period Virtual Enterprise A class, Bonsai Bento offers delicious and eco-conscious meals from Japanese cuisine. Packaged in recyclable bamboo fiber take-out boxes, these plant-based and well-balanced meals promote an eco-friendly lifestyle. Bonsai Bento delivers food following their motto: planting a fresh start.
The idea for Bonsai Bento originated from aspirations to create change within food industries with environmentally-benefiting concepts. This led to the idea to create a restaurant with the principles of sustainability, realism and affordability. There, the idea for the vegetarian restaurant Bonsai Bento was born.
At Bonsai Bento, consumers can initially choose from either a single or double-decker bento box. Each bento box comes with one entree and one side. Entrees range from various items from Japanese cuisine including nori tamagoyaki, a rolled egg omelet with nori; onigiri, rice stuffed with umeboshi plums; or cold sesame soba, cold soba noodle with sesame and scallions. Sides include fruit salad, yams, cucumbers, tofu or a hijiki seaweed salad.
“The concept of the reusable bento boxes came alongside wanting to encourage less plastic waste and harmful gasses and unethical practices that come from the meat industry as well. The Bonsai plant itself, directly translates to planted in a container, which is why we chose to pair this concept with bento boxes,” senior and co-COO Alexandria Tran said.
Bonsai Bento strives to help people develop healthier lifestyles, appreciate Japanese cuisine and succeed in upcoming competitions and trade shows. To put this business idea into effect, Bonsai Bento had to be created from scratch as a start-up company. Overcoming this challenge and moving towards expansion consisted of collaboration between staff and the development of marketing strategies.
“From this first trade show experience, we have learned things we can work on with communication and other ways to keep our ordering system more efficient with the larger [number] of people there will be in future trade shows,” senior and co-CEO Katie Dao said. “But overall, we had a great time and this was truly the best way to kick off the first trade show.”
The hardworking and determined staff of both Bonsai Bento and Baron Brew will be focused on running a successful business and progressing in future trade shows while representing the Virtual Enterprise program and FVHS.
“I am looking forward to another successful year for FV Virtual Enterprise. We are always top ranked in the country thanks to the dedication and hard work of our amazing students … there’s a lot of travel, planning [and] events outside of school,” McCance said. “I can see Baron Brew and Bonsai Bento growing and partnering with our culinary students on projects and meeting many industry professionals and college professors on our field trips.”
Dao and McCance recommend that anyone interested in business to take Virtual Enterprise. Students can explore different departments including Human Resources, Sales/Marketing and Design while learning how to manage finances and network with others. Through Virtual Enterprise, students can explore various career pathways and determine what paths align with their personal aspirations.
You can follow Bonsai Bento at @vefvhs on Instagram and their website bit.ly/bonsaibento. Baron Brew is on Instagram at @fvbaronbrew and their website bit.ly/BaronBrewCafe.