Bright idea: Area student’s solar powered generator receives national attention

Posted Monday, Jun. 16, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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At 14 years old, Drew DeHaven firmly believes that solar power is the “way of the future.”

Recently, the fledgling entrepreneur developed an emergency solar powered generator that he says is portable, cost effective and easy to use.

“We are ready to light up the dark,” said the teenage CEO of CGE Energy, which stands for Clean, Green and Emergency.

“Not only is energy from the sun clean and eco-friendly but it is also cost effective,” said Drew, an incoming ninth-grader at Grapevine High School. “Solar technology is very fascinating.”

Drew’s message is receiving national recognition.

Drew was a top participant in this year’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy — also known as YEA! — a national educational program that teaches middle and high school students how to start and run their own real businesses.

It then gives the fledgling entrepreneurs the opportunity to showcase businesses they have created.

YEA! was developed at the University of Rochester in 2004 with the support of a grant from the Kauffman Foundation.

Drew represented the Grapevine Chamber of Commerce, which supports the program locally.

Drew was among six students chosen from a field of more than 2,600 nationwide to present their business plans at the YEA! Saunders Scholarship Bright Ideas National College Scholarship finals competition at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Summit on Thursday in Washington, D.C.

Drew presented to a roomful of industry leaders his business plan for his “Juice Box” — a device that with a full charge can power a 5-watt light bulb for six days, a 19-inch color television for 7.5 hours, a computer for 3.5 hours, a microwave for 54 minutes and a power drill for one hour and 48 minutes.

“We live in a society where electricity is important to everything we do,” Drew told them, then proceeded to demonstrate his 30-watt solar powered generator.

His presentation drew applause and occasional laughs when he told them of his nominal start-up and administrative costs that included an initial outlay of $165 of his own money and a $50 loan from a relative.

He explained that other generators are bulkier and more expensive or smaller and cheaply made.

“Mine is the middle-of-the-road,” the ninth-grader said.

The following day, The YEA! Saunders winners were announced at the Dream Big Small Business of the Year Award Luncheon in Washington.

Drew placed second, earning a trophy, some scholarship money and bragging rights.

Accompanying him on his trip were his parents, Dwayne and Nancy DeHaven, and his sister, Brooke.

Nancy DeHaven said her son’s journey to Washington has been “amazing.”

“We didn’t know what we were getting into,” she said of when their only son came to them with his idea, adding, “This is all Drew’s.”

It’s nice to have a kid who wants to be independent, who wants to do it on his own,” she said.

Drew told the Star-Telegram that his device would be of use to many groups, such as missionaries, campers, tailgaters, first responders such as law enforcement, homeowners, survivalists, third-world countries and “any situation where power is not accessible.”

He told the Washington crowd that it would also be handy “during a blackout.”

His website — www.cgenergy.us./ — says that the mission of CGE energy “is to provide security and peace of mind to our customers by providing electricity for survival or recreation.”

“CGE wants all of our customers to experience to benefits of having a back-up generator,” it says. “Our guarantee to you is that the customer comes first.”

The website provides ordering information: The juice box; 30-watt solar generator, cost is $450, contents are one solar panel charging station and one electrical generator. The product has a one-year guarantee.

He notes that an advantage of solar energy is: “It’s completely free.”

It was the latest achievement for this Colleyville teenager, who has served as vice president of his school’s National Junior Honor Society. has served as an umpire for the Colleyville Baseball Association and has helped run the Vacation Bible School at his local church.

Drew has attended and participated in the University Interscholastic League Math Competition as well as the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District Leadership Conference.

He has won the Silver Key Award for the National Scholastic Essay Contest and has earned additional accolades, including Student of the Year Award for Accelerated History Class, as well as Coach’s Pick award for Stand Out Player.

Michael Miori of the Grapevine Chamber said they were extremely proud of Drew, who learned of the program when it was advertised at Colleyville Middle School, where he was an eighth-grader.

Over the course of the program, students brainstorm business ideas, write a business plan, interact with business professionals, pitch their business plan to potential investors, obtain funding, legally register their businesses, participate in a trade show and launch their own businesses or social movements.

Miori said that after besting 16 others in a local competition, Drew was chosen as one of two students from a field of 23 at the YEA! 2014 Saunders Western Regional Competition in Frisco, held May 8-9.

Drew earned the right to represent the region at the Washington, D.C., event, where he shared his business concept.

The local process begins with students applying for the program, then going through an interview process and, if selected, beginning a 30-week program.

They have the opportunity to meet with business professionals, local leaders of industry, community members and educators, among others, and have the opportunity to tour businesses.

Grapevine Chamber spokesman William Moore said the students develop ideas and objectives, write business plans, pitch potential investors, obtain funding, register with governmental agencies, develop their brand identity and more.

By the end of Grapevine’s program, more than 100 business and community leaders had invested hundreds of hours to help with the program and support the future business and community leaders, he said.

“It’s a fantastic outcome for our program and his business,” Moore said of Drew’s second-place finish.

Drew said he enjoyed making contacts and friends.

“It’s a great marketing experience,” Drew said.

Marty Sabota, 817-390-7367

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