Valley News -

By Peter Thorwarth
Special to Valley News 

MVHS Virtual Enterprise promotes business training for high school students


Last updated 5/11/2018 at 11:58am


These six Murrieta Valley High School students, part of the SoleMates Business Plan Team, came in second at the Youth Business Summit national championship in New York City.

Murrieta Valley High School's Virtual Enterprise is a yearlong program for juniors and seniors that teaches students how to set up a simulated business. They create and design a business name and logo, catalog, business plan, employee manual, business cards, flyers, company uniforms, website, video commercial, newsletter and all the other elements of a startup business venture.

"One of the best things about VE is nontraditional grading. Instead of the usual tests, grades in VE are based on performance relevant to the company," Nathan Paysse, vice president of human resources, said.

Students apply for positions and are trained on how to interview and create a good resume. They are assigned responsibilities, tasks and deadlines based on their job title. For example, the director of human resources works with their department to write the employee manual.

"I learned people need to be rewarded, how to mediate and I developed better social skills," Marissabel Maldonado, a human resources associate, said.

The chief financial officer is in charge of all the company's finances. The vice president of sales coordinates creating an "elevator pitch," a sales catalog, trade show booth and more. All of these experiences prepare the students to be entrepreneurs or to work within a business after graduation.

"It has taught me how to handle situations and properly discuss them with your employees," Brinley Bowler of human resources said. Her boss at her real job at Painted Earth told her, "No high school student knows how to do these things you've shown me. You're going to go far in life."

Virtual Enterprise is an international program. The National Program's headquarters in New York City provides a great deal of the structure, relevant curriculum and information for all high school programs to use and follow.

An additional feature of the program is that students learn about personal finances. They are assigned a virtual salary based on their position, have a virtual bank account and learn how much taxes, insurance, car payments and other monthly expenses would cost them in the real world.

Virtual Enterprise students also attend trade shows, where they market their product or service to students and compete with other schools in a variety of business-related competitions. Murrieta Valley students took this year's companies – "Clear Coast Eyewear" and "SoleMates" – to trade shows in San Diego, Bakersfield, Pasadena and Oakland, California, where they made virtual sales and won many awards.

"If it wasn't for VE, I wouldn't have gone to New York and some of the other cities where we've done the trade shows," CEO Ashley Gonzalez said. "In New York, it was amazing to meet students from across the country and even some from Germany."


The 2017-2018 Murrieta Valley High School Virtual Enterprise students pose for a photo following a competition.

The Murrieta Valley Business Plan teams compete at the regional and state levels, and if they qualify by placing in the top 6 in the state, they go to the Youth Business Summit in New York City to compete for the National Championship. Over 550 schools from across the nation competed in the business plan competition, culminating in the top 28 teams competing in the national finals. Murrieta Valley High School has had both teams place in the top 16 in the country for the past four years and have had a team finish in the top 3 for the past three, including a second-place finish for "SoleMates" this year.

The Virtual Enterprise program has some community support. Volunteer Bill Demmin mentored with a focus on the finances. Joni Fulton worked closely with human resources. Peter Thorwarth acted as a marketing mentor.

"Having mentors from the local business community makes it all more real and helps us see what is applicable," Chief Business Officer Ethan Campbell said. "It's great to have a network of experienced people to turn to for advice."

Contact Joel Levin, teacher and coordinator of the school's Virtual Enterprise Program at [email protected] to discuss sponsoring or mentoring.


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