For Andrew John Kutches and Christian Abrego, two Bay Area students recently recognized as Young Entrepreneurs of the Year by the National Founding for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), that honor was a testament not only to what they’ve accomplished, but also to what they’ve overcome.
Kutches experienced a turbulent youth growing up in San Francisco, and after continually getting himself in trouble with the police, wound up at Log Cabin Ranch, a juvenile rehabilitation center located near Half Moon Bay. It was there, through a NFTE training center called Turning Heads, that Kutches started learning about the basics of entrepreneurship. He decided to make a conscious effort to turn his life around and devote it to business.
“I knew I didn’t have any more chances left to waste,” said Kutches, 20, who has a four-year-old son. “If I broke probation one more time, I could be spending the next 12 years in jail. I knew I could contribute something positive, and my entrepreneurship classes gave me a great opportunity to do that.”
After leaving Log Cabin, Kutches entered into a carpenter’s apprenticeship, eventually joined a union, and now runs his own carpentry business, Kutches Construction Company. He works an estimated 70 to 80 hours a week, while also attending night classes at City College of San Francisco.
Abrego, who hails from East Palo Alto and is attending Menlo-Atherton High School, faced numerous difficulties growing up in his notoriously tough neighborhood. He viewed his entrepreneurial lessons at school as a positive alternative to the drug dealing and criminal activity he often witnessed.
The production company he founded, Young Sprouts Event Marketing, organizes sporting and social events, such as soccer tournaments and dance competitions.
“I wanted to find a way to help my friends and I stay away from all the bad things that we’re going on aroundus,” said Abrego, 16, who would like to attend MIT after graduating high school. “When I first started learning about business entrepreneurship, I thought it was interesting, but I had no idea I could achieve so much with it.”
Although Kutches and Abrego did not know each other before receiving their honors, they became close friends after meeting at the NFTE’s business summit in New York, which recognized young entrepreneurs from around the country.
“We’ve kept in touch since meeting, and we’re always bouncing ideas off each other,” Kutches said. “I would love to work with Christian some day. He’s a real smart guy, and we seem to have a great understanding of each other.”
New project: Concrete and foundation work for a residential client
Last project: Remodeling for a residential client
Number of e-mails a day: 20
<b>Number of voice mails a day: 15
Essential Web site: craigslist.org
Best perk: Being able to provide jobs for others
Gadgets: Construction tools and cell phone
Education: GED and some college
Last conference: National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship Conference in New York
First job: Cutting trees with Dad
Original aspiration: Dad
Career objective: Have a successful business remodeling houses and building custom homes
Details: I like to exercise; I dislike arguments about nothing
Hometown: San Francisco
Sports/hobbies: Motorcycle riding
Transportation: Motorcycle, public transportation
Favorite restaurant: Sunflower on 16th and Valencia
Computer: I do not own a computer
Vacation spot: Guatamala or Hawaii
Favorite clothier: Calvin Klein or H&M
Role Model: Dad
Reading: I like historical fiction. However, now I am reading “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.”
Worst fear: Dying alone
Motivation: My past experiences — I stay motivated by being able to accomplish things people told me I would not be able to accomplish