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The Bellevue East Virtual Enterprise International team earned first place in booth design and sales pitch Dec. 6 at the Virtual Enterprises International’s 2019 San Diego Conference and Exhibition at San Diego State University. Pictured from left, Zoey Morrissey, Michael Ermitano, Breck O’Grady, Sam Semanko, Colin Peetz, Ethan Fritz and Laynee Benne.

The Bellevue East High School Virtual Enterprise International team is making strides across the country.

The team earned two first-place awards Dec. 6 at the VEI’s 2019 San Diego Conference and Exhibition at San Diego State University.

The team placed first in booth design and sales pitch at the trade show, competing against more than 40 schools from California. It also received a silver decoration for its website.

The VEI courses and curriculum offered at East are for students to learn about starting and building their own business.

Breck O’Grady, a senior and the team’s chief executive officer, said after last school year’s team created No Coast Soap, which created all-natural and biodegradable soap and body scrubs, the team decided to expand the operation to create more products and re-brand as just No Coast.

O’Grady said the trade show was “very different” from the one he attended last year in Tennessee.

“They had a different feel about them — they felt more in line with what we as a company were putting out with all-clean, all-natural and caring for the environment,” he said.

“But they also lacked some of that homeliness that we have. It was interesting to them that we were from Nebraska.”

O’Grady said a key takeaway from the trade show was how well the teams practiced prior to attending.

“They have five or six different trade shows in California alone. Then when you look at the national competition in New York every year, they place the highest, but this year we placed higher than them at (the San Diego) trade show,” he said. “It’s interesting to see the more and more they practice, the better and better they get, so that must be similar for us.”

The ability to grow in the VEI program is what kept O’Grady interested and moving up as the CEO.

“I saw how much I learned from being an employee,” he said.

“Everyone was able to see the different sides of business. This year I was able to see how huge some of the decisions can change the whole company and how critical it is to get something exactly right.”

For the rest of the year, O’Grady said he wants to keep growing the business.

“Right now, our goal is primarily to look at what we did from the trade show, what worked, what didn’t and improve upon that,” he said.

“We’re hoping to set up a booth at our upcoming conferences and potentially go to the national competition in New York in April.”

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