Sophomore Jordan Sotomayor started at Dwight in preschool — now, 12 years later, he is the President of the Business and Investment Club, whose spark of genius in business and entrepreneurship is fueled in our Spark Tank incubator and beyond campus.
Spark Tank is designed to foster entrepreneurial, innovation, and leadership skills outside the classroom. At this year's first Spark Tank event, during which students presented their projects to a committee of judges (parent entrepreneurs), Jordan and the Club's Vice President, Justin Chen '21, impressed everyone with their progress. Since last year, the Club has doubled in size; 16 active members meet weekly to conduct research and analyze the performance of various stocks — and manage a portfolio funded, thanks to innovation grants from The Dwight School Foundation. Profits enable the Club to invest further and to give back to the Foundation.
The Club has become a learning opportunity that expands the world of investment to Dwight students. Jordan reports, "We have members who are knowledgeable about the stock market, and others who are new and really interested in the business and investment world." The Club, as Spark Tank judge Drew Pizzo noted, has also become a true community.
Looking forward, Jordan says, "We're continuing to focus on presentation-based stock analysis and on learning from the investments we make. We are also looking forward to hosting guest speakers."
In addition to growing Dwight's Business and Investment Club, Jordan worked hard this year on another venture: bringing the Weekend Business Academy to Dwight.
Last summer, Jordan attended the Summer Business Academy, a Harvard student-led business and entrepreneurship program for high school students. With CEOs from startup businesses and a Harvard professor providing insights, Jordan shares it was a great educational experience.
Over the course of a week on Harvard's campus, participants worked together in teams to generate a potential business idea, develop a business plan, and present it in a culminating pitch competition. Jordan's team came up with the concept for a composting company that would produce soil with food scraps collected from local restaurants or supermarkets and then sell that soil to organic farms. The company would then link those farms back to supermarkets or restaurants to sell their produce. "This way, organic farms have a buyer and the restaurants and supermarkets can truly call their produce organic and eco-friendly," says Jordan.
Following his week at the Summer Business Academy, Jordan was offered an internship with Harvard Student Agencies (HSA) to promote Harvard's Weekend Business Academy, an eight-hour, intensive course modeled after the summer program. He got right to work, asking Chancellor Spahn for the go-ahead to host the Academy at Dwight in November.
Jordan dove back into Spark Tank, meeting with Director of Innovation and Technology Matthew Moran each week to develop a promotional plan. He spoke at a morning meeting, and worked with Dwight's Communications Department to send an email to parents, and promote the Academy in "The Daily Bulletin" and on Dwight's social media platforms. While still getting the word out about the event, Jordan took to the stage for the second time during the October Spark Tank Event to present this project, reflecting, "I learned so much about marketing effectively, and about managing time and people — while coordinating with Harvard Student Agencies and with the Communications Department, I found out that if I fell behind, I really had to work fast to make up for lost time!"
The Spark Tank judges were fans of Jordan's efforts, with Maarten Maaskant (Francois "Junior" Nicolle '19) remarking: "I was impressed when I received the parent email. I forwarded it to my boss and said, 'This program is a great idea!'" Jordan received applause from all the judges for his initiative and contributions. Founding Spark Tank Committee Chair and judge, Dave Lindsey (David '18, Maggie '19, JackieRay '21) said, "Not every project needs to be a business. This is really educational and it's about business, but it's really a way to improve the community, so kudos to you!"
With 23 students in attendance, Jordan reports, "The Academy went really well! Mr. Spahn spoke to kick off the program, and shared how much he enjoys seeing students teaching other students. All of us really enjoyed this kind of group work and thinking of our own business ideas. Some participants even said that they were interested in continuing to develop their ideas from the weekend in Spark Tank! The Weekend Business Academy was a great opportunity for students to brainstorm and spark new ideas."
What's Jordan working on now? Developing an idea he had during the Academy! "My friend Killian Terrisse Flagg '21 and I are developing an investing app that uses artificial intelligence to make it easier for people to know when to buy and sell public securities. We are planning to pitch this idea to Spark Tank later in the year," he says. Jordan also continues to attract guest speakers for the Business and Investment Club. Following Jordan's Spark Tank presentation, judge and financial expert James Chang (Maddy '27, Jay '29) visited with members and spoke about his own investment philosophy, which the club is beginning to implement into their research.
Jordan aspires to study business in college and aims for a career in the field as well. His enthusiasm and innovative spirit shine through all his hard work — and we know that he will be successful in whatever venture he pursues!