Since Mateo Chaney-Martinez was in middle school, he’s had a fascination with self-help books. The University View Academy 12th grader admits, “I’m an extreme nerd.” Still, he is very competitive and said he took some of the books’ information to heart to improve himself as a student. “I love that it helps me. That is the passion,” he explained. While discussing his favorite concepts from the books with classmates, he says they got excited about what he practices, too. It spawned an idea.
Mateo developed a business called Smart Start University. Using online meetings due to the pandemic, he coaches other students in time management, public speaking, and interpersonal leadership, which he learned from reading the self-help books. Mateo has two clients and two more in the wings. But, he realized he would need help growing the business. Then, he heard about the Young Entrepreneurs Academy of Baton Rouge (YEA BR). The academy transforms high school students into entrepreneurs.
Over the academic year, select students launch their own companies by generating business ideas tied to their interests, write business plans, file businesses with the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office, and even pitch a Shark-Tank-like investor panel for seed funding. It’s under the instruction of the LSU E. J. Ourso College of Business. YEA BR is a chapter of the national YEA organization founded to unlock young, aspiring entrepreneurs’ potential. Mateo was one of 19 accepted of the 38 who applied.
Cognizant of the time constraints of coaching, Mateo says he recognizes the way to maximize his impact will be through constructing online courses. Developing the courses for his website, smartstartuniversity.com, is his focus as he participates in YEA BR this year. “YEA is really open to ideas and exploring how viable they can be,” he explained. Having already met twice with the current YEA BR class, he’ll have the academic year to refine his business model and tailor it to his audience.
After graduating from UVA next May, Mateo plans to attend the University of Alabama on a scholarship to double-major in Public Relations and Leadership Studies. With the number of dual enrollment college credits he’ll have earned in high school, he wants to achieve his undergraduate and master’s degrees in four years. He’ll have to rely on his time management self-help pointers to succeed.