For the first time in Bakersfield’s history, Virtual Enterprise has put the region on the map for being the best in the nation and winning the top three spots. Centennial High School, Bakersfield High School, and Ridgeview High School won first, second, and third place during April’s Virtual Enterprises National Youth Business Summit competition in New York City.
Back in January Bakersfield’s Mechanics Bank Arena hosted the Virtual Enterprise California State Conference & Exhibition that welcomed around 40 schools from different counties. This was a two-day event and a thirteen-hour-plus journey where judges decided who would compete in New York. Centennial’s virtual enterprise, Go Gather, won first place for its business plan at the regional competition.
In late April after the national competition, Centennial High was recognized at the city council meeting and awarded the mayor’s medal for winning first place at both events.
Vaishvi Joshi, a senior from Centennial and Go Gather’s chief executive officer (CEO) had an opportunity to describe the business for the city council chambers.
“We wanted to tackle social isolation that many teenagers face nowadays, they’re spending so much time on their cell phones and away from their loved ones,” Joshi continued, “We wanted to get them connected, and cultivate those relationships. So we offer themed activity boxes where we do the thinking and planning for our customers.”
She further explained that each box offers a variety of diverse options from games and crafts to custom recipes, playlists, and even conversation starters. All tangible products necessary would be shipped directly to the customer.
The Centennial High Go Gather management also includes Juliana Goyenetche the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Aden Stovall the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Tharun Thiagarajan the Chief Operations Officer (COO), Robert Lopez the Director of Sales and Products, and Georgia Tabar the Director of Marketing.
Stovall stated the inspiration for the business concept was fellow team member Tabar.
“The person that actually came up with it was one of our friends, her name is Georgia Tabar.” Stovall added, “We felt that Go Gather, and the problem of social isolation stuck with us the most as we are teenagers and we do experience the same effects are company was trying to tackle.”
Go Gather’s CEO Joshi said that the team had been working diligently since May of 2022. She made her fellow team members erupt in laughter when she recounted an old inside joke to Kern Sol News about the only days off was the one they enjoyed during Christmas.
Joshi spoke about the realness of creating a virtual business and how it was easy for the team to take it seriously because most members had real jobs outside of high school.
Thiagarajan the COO shared the importance of being recognized by the mayor and town for all the hard work that went into preparing their business.
“The entire way through has been challenge after challenge… Winning nationals and then getting this medal makes it feel like everything leading up to this moment has been worth the grueling amount of effort,” claimed Thiagarajan.
Jacilyn Elliott is a Centennial High teacher and advisor whose students report is an amazing motivator and support system.
“Kern High has had a very successful tradition of excellence in Virtual Enterprise in general,” Elliot stated. “For us to get first, second, third has never happened in the history of the competition.”
These successful students shared their goals and plans for after high school. Both Joshi and Goyenetche will be attending Chapman University and majoring in Business Administration together in the fall. They heartwarmingly attributed this synchronicity to them being best friends. Stovall will be attending San Diego State University for Business and Accounting, and Thiagarajan will be at the University of California pursuing pre-med in the fall.