The IFA Franchise Education & Research Foundation announced today the winners of its 2017 Franshark competition, sponsored by the Frederick A. DeLuca Foundation and Subway which was held at the International Franchise Association 57th Annual Convention in Las Vegas. The four entrepreneurs—who hailed from the United States, Canada, Mexico and Australia—were selected by a panel of judges from 18 winners of the NextGen in Franchising Global Competition, which engages young entrepreneurs seeking careers and business opportunities in the franchising industry.

As part of the Franshark competition, each participant pitched their business to a panel of industry experts and nearly 4,000 convention attendees for a chance to win cash prizes ranging from $5,000 ­– $10,000. Judges included Tony Valle, CFE, CEO of CollegePro; Dave Mortensen, president and co-founder of Anytime Fitness; and John Rotche, CFE, CEO of Franworth; and convention attendees cast votes to determine the grand prize winner.

This year, Jennifer Turliuk, founder of MakerKids, took home first place, which included a $10,000 cash prize. David Blue, founder of Blue Moon Estate Sales USA, and David Lindsay, founder of Salts of the Earth, each received $5,000. The judges also awarded a $5,000 prize—sponsored by Dave Mortensen and Anytime Fitness—to Alejandro Souza, founder of Pixza, a social enterprise franchise.

“The millennial generation is known for its entrepreneurial spirit, and we are thrilled to introduce such impressive young businessmen and women to the wealth of opportunity that awaits them in the franchising industry,” says David McKinnon, CFE, Foundation vice chair and chairman of the NextGen in Franchising Committee. “While the competition was steep, each of this year’s Franshark winners displayed exceptional business acumen and showcased the immense potential for success of each of their business concepts. We have no doubt that their futures are bright, and look forward to providing them with unwavering support as they continue grow into the leaders of tomorrow.”

The 2017 FRANSHARK winners include:

David Blue, founder of Blue Moon Estate Sales USA (United States). Blue co-founded Blue Moon Estate Sales USA with his mother to conduct personal property liquidation for people who are downsizing or dealing with the estate of a deceased relative. The company’s mission is to bring standardization to a growing, in-demand industry that for years has been run by small companies providing extreme variability in the quality of service to its clients. In 2015, the company’s 11 locations reported $2.5 million in gross sales, and is projected to hit nearly $5 million by year-end. Blue plans to have a total of 200 units in five years, with annual gross sales in excess of $80 million annually.

Jennifer Turliuk, founder of MakerKids (Canada). After graduating from Singularity University, a NASA-based program where students learn how to apply technology to education, Turliuk founded MakerKids. The company runs programs on robotics, coding and Minecraft for kids ages 8-12 through camps, after-school programs and birthday parties. Graduates of MakerKids have gone on to start businesses, present their projects on national TV, teach classes, and more. The company has received national and international press coverage, hundreds of franchise requests, and globally recognized awards.

David Lindsay, founder of Salts of the Earth (Australia). Lindsay founded Salts of the Earth (SOTE) in 2010 after seeing the incredible effects salt therapy had on his father’s respiratory ailments. In just five years, SOTE has grown from one center in Melbourne to 19 centers in Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia and South Australia, and is the largest salt therapy franchise in the world. Lindsay plans on expanding the business into key international markets, such as the U.S., China, Malaysia and the U.K. over the next five years. In the Australian market alone, sales are estimated to grow by an average of 42 percent year-over-year, with net profit growing by an average of 67 percent year-over-year.

Alejandro Souza, social franchise winner and founder of Pixza (Mexico). Pixza is an innovative and unique pizza concept that sells the world’s first blue corn pizza made out of 100 percent Mexican ingredients. What makes the restaurant so special is that it simultaneously operates as a social empowerment platform; for every five slices sold, a sixth slice is automatically delivered to homeless young adults who then have the opportunity to join the company’s “The Route of Change” program. Those who consequently graduate the program receive a job offer from their local pizzeria, as well as an opportunity to live in their own apartment and work with a personal coach in order to establish and implement a life plan. Consequently, the restaurant exclusively employs local homeless young adults in need and gives them an outlet to change their lives.

“I am so happy and grateful to have won the NextGen in Franchising Global Competition at the International Franchise Association Annual Convention,” Turliuk says. “It was amazing to learn from CEOs of large franchised companies such as College Pro and TutorDoctor. I look forward to using what I learned from this experience to expand MakerKids and grow the economy.”

The Franshark competition culminated the year-long NextGen in Franchising Global Competition, through which nearly 400 young entrepreneurs from around the world submitted their franchise business plans for a chance to be among the top 18 winners hosted at the IFA Annual Convention. In addition to a chance to compete in Franshark, NextGen finalists received a complimentary registration and travel stipend to attend the IFA’s Annual Convention; a spot at the NextGen in Franchising Summit, a two-day educational and networking program for next generation entrepreneurs; a 90-day accelerator program with industry leaders and CEOs; and opportunities to network with leading franchisors, franchisees and suppliers and with other young entrepreneurs.

The NextGen in Franchising program is made possible due to the generosity of its donors and sponsors, which include David McKinnon, the founding sponsor; the Stewart & Jane Bainum Fund; Lawrence “Doc” Cohen, Doc & Associates; Stephen P. Joyce Fund; Choice Hotels Foundation; J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation; Tariq Farid, Edible Arrangements; Charlie Chase, FirstService Brands; Amit Kleinberger, Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt; Aziz Hashim, NRD Holdings; Joe Bourdow, Valpak; Melanie Bergeron, Two Men & A Truck Intl.; Amit Pamecha, FranConnect; the Frederick A. DeLuca Foundation and Subway and Dave Mortensen, president and cofounder of Anytime Fitness.

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