By Christopher Roberson
Jacob Bettencourt, a senior at Essex Technical High School, was recently awarded $1,000 in start-up funds for his company, Sizzle Sleeve, following the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) Investor Panel. “I am very excited to be chosen as the winner,” he said. “I’m grateful to YEA!, the Investor Panel and the Peabody Chamber of Commerce; it is amazing how much they are willing to support young entrepreneurs.”
His product is a fireproof sleeve that covers the forearm to protect against burns. Bettencourt said he uses the Sizzle Sleeve at Brooksby Village, where he works as a prep cook. “I quickly realized that anyone who cooks gets burned,” he said. “I wanted to buy something that would protect me from being burned and then scarring, but I was surprised that there wasn’t anything that would be good for a professional kitchen and look cool.”
During the Investor Panel on April 11, Bettencourt said he would donate five percent of the company’s profits to Shriners Hospital for Children. “Shriners Hospital for Children made sense since they deal with burn victims and specifically children who need treatment from burns,” he said.
Bettencourt said his interest in entrepreneurship was sparked when a group on YEA! students visited the Creativity Center at the Peabody Institute Library, where he was working at the time. “I learned about the students’ businesses and the process that they were going through and thought that it would be fun to learn how to start a real business,” he said.
Throughout this year’s YEA! program, Bettencourt was mentored by Eastern Bank Branch Manager Taylor Sparkas. “She helped me talk through my ideas and build a business plan,” he said.
He also received assistance from Salem Five Bank Creative Director and Marketing Manager Christopher Payne. “He designed an awesome logo that is perfect for my business,” said Bettencourt.
He also said that regardless of what students decide to do after YEA!, they will always have the experience of building a business. “It was hard work but it was also a lot of fun; each week you would learn something new,” he said.
As the winner of YEA!, Bettencourt will move on to compete in the semifinals of the Saunders Scholars Competition at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
“I am going to continue to refine my design and reach out to local manufacturers about producing Sizzle Sleeve,” he said. “I think it is important to find a way of producing them in the United States.”
Bettencourt said he is planning to attend Keene State College in the fall. “I am going to major in Safety and Occupational Health and Sustainable Product Design and Innovation so I can continue to create new products to protect workers,” he said.