Laura Seitz, Deseret Morning News
Students wrap Zions Business Resource Center in Salt Lake City on Wednesday with a friendship-bracelet ribbon.

To open a bed and breakfast, Josh Mejicanos needs a business degree, start-up money for a house and more start-up money to pay employees, utilities and other costs in those first months before profits begin pouring in.

Despite such hurdles, Mejicanos keeps his eye on the target of owning a B&B because he thinks it is the perfect family-owned business. Mejicanos envisions his family living and working together under the same roof.

But that's when he has a family. More immediately, Mejicanos is trying to get through the eighth grade at Glendale Middle School, where he is learning about entrepreneurship with 22 other students.

On Wednesday, the students attended an event at Zions Bank Business Resource Center to learn more about running a business from local bankers and business executives.

"We think it's really important you learn about entrepreneurship," said Zions Bank President and CEO Scott Anderson.

Nancy Hill, founder of Die Cuts Inc., told the students she worked at Utah Valley State College and was impressed by die cuts that teachers made at about the same time scrapbooking took off. She worked out of her basement until she was making about $50,000 a month, then got a separate space for her business.

The company expanded to include stationery and home decorating. Die Cuts now has about 3,500 products. "Basically, we reinvent ourselves every six weeks," Hill said.

Hill now has people to handle the business affairs. She does television advertising on channels such as QVC and continues to interact with the public in search of new ideas.

The eighth-graders take a class called Advancement by Individual Determination, which teaches study skills and high school and college readiness, and participated in a unit by BizWorld, a San Francisco-based business and economic education foundation.

The Glendale class is one of 250 throughout Utah using BizWorld, said Trisha Wrigley, BizWorld's Utah program manager.

Students were divided into three groups and charged with starting a company that makes friendship bracelets. Each group incorporated as a company, pitched its ideas to venture capitalists, sold stock, made advertisements and sold the bracelets.

"It's lasted about a month," teacher John Clay said. "It also teaches financial goals, how to keep track of money and that kind of thing."

"What's your line extension?" Cafe Rio executive Tera Sunder asked the students. "What are you going to do next when everyone has a bracelet? Ankle bracelets?"

Sunder, who previously worked in management at Starbucks, told the students they need something to make their companies stand out in the marketplace. They could promise to donate a share of profits to an organization, for instance.

Zions Bank purchased 500 bracelets, after negotiating with the students, for $2 each. Die Cuts matched the offer. The money will likely go to a fund helping students purchase school supplies, Clay said.

The bracelets will be sent to members of Congress with letters from Anderson encouraging more business education in public schools.

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