Alberto Arroyo, a Molina High junior and a student at Career Institute South, owns about 30 pairs of sneakers and has flipped as many in resale since taking interest as an eighth-grader.
As part of a campuswide competition, the 17-year-old “sneakerhead” and hobbyist reseller developed a business idea to address counterfeit sales – one of the biggest leakages of the sneakers market, which is valued at $70 billion worldwide. He is set to present his plan later this month at a national entrepreneurship competition in New York City.
“Ever since I was a little kid, I would always have the newest Jordans,” Alberto said. “I started seeing more high-end sneakers that I liked, but I never really had the money to buy them. In eighth grade, I started saving money and being able to buy a pair and flip it, and I kept doing it and doing it.”
Last fall, Hilltop Holdings, a Dallas-based financial services holding company, provided volunteer mentors and judges and a monetary contribution to the Dallas Education Foundation to develop a competition meant to enhance the experience of entrepreneurship students at the Career Institutes. Each Dallas ISD Career Institute – East, North and South – held the Hilltop Entrepreneurship Challenge, a campuswide competition where students in entrepreneurship classes developed their own business ideas.
The participants were tasked with creating an original product or service, developing a sound plan for launching their project and producing a Shark Tank-style video presentation. Alberto’s business model is to develop TKicks, a company that offers an online sneaker marketplace where every product offered is verified for authenticity before closing the sale.
“One of my friends recently paid $1,200 for a pair of sneakers, and once he started looking deep into it, they turned out to be fake,” Alberto said. “And that’s the thing: There aren’t any trusted platforms to guarantee authenticity in resales. I used to want to play sports and become a professional athlete, but now my main goal is to launch TKicks and open my own store one day.”
At the time, Alberto was in Jacqueline Renfro’s Entrepreneurship I class, a then-new elective offered at the Charmaine & Robert Price Career Institute (CI South). Renfro is a Skyline High School graduate and a veteran educator who has served Dallas ISD for over 26 years. Last school year was the first time she’d taught an entrepreneurship course, and she’s hoping that Alberto’s success will inspire other students to explore their talents and passions through this subject.
“I like the fact that students have the opportunity to express themselves, to really home in on their creative side, to not be limited, to just be able to come in and collaborate,” Renfro said. “Alberto went above and beyond. His school sees what he’s accomplishing. He’s being recognized at the national and state level. And it all started in this classroom in CI South.”
Alberto was the first-place winner in CI South’s competition. The first, second and third place winners at each of the three Career Institutes received awards and prizes during the 2022 Dallas ISD Entrepreneurship Gala – held on May 5th at the Hyatt Regency Dallas – and advanced to the regional student competition, NFTE South’s Annual Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge.
NFTE is a global educational nonprofit led by business and community leaders, academicians, and entrepreneurs and focused on bringing the power of entrepreneurship to youth in low-income communities. Alberto placed among the top three competitors in NFTE South’s Annual Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, where he competed against 115 teams from 14 schools across Texas. He’s among 36 student business winners from 10 regions across the U.S. who will compete in the 2022 National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge; he will be the sole Dallas ISD representative in the nationwide contest.
“Our programs – like entrepreneurship – are game-changers in students’ lives because they allow them to discover new skills and tap into strengths that they didn’t know they had,” said CI South’s Director Adrienne Jones. “Many students could potentially earn employment with the skills they learn here and can also turn those skills into their own business and be their own boss. And it all starts here.”
Renfro, Jones and Alberto’s family will join the CI South sneakerhead in New York City to cheer him on as he pitches TKicks to a panel of judges at the 2022 National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge on Oct. 13.
“Going into this course, it was just going to be another class where I’d just get a grade and leave,” Alberto said. “I used to be like a shy kid who didn’t want to go up there [to speak to the class], but Ms. Renfro kept asking me to go up there and present to the class. And I lost that shyness and was able to pitch my business and advance. I would say to others to take opportunities and chances, because you never know what you will get.”