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Developing ideas for a bicycle rental and repair business to a temperature-controlled thermos, over 160 high school students converged on the University City Sheraton over the weekend as part of the University-sponsored EntreCon '90. At the four-day conference, the students, through speeches and interactive workshops, merged their entrepreneurial talent and insight to create theoretical products and businesses. The main focus of many of the events is the creation of a "business plan" -- in which participants identify target markets, create a marketing plan, identify product competition, outline management techniques, and provide substantial financial data supporting the implementation of their product or business. Wharton freshman Erica Lapidus, who participated in EntreCon as both a junior and senior in high school and acted as an adviser this year, said the practical experience students gain from the conference is invaluable. "The business plan teaches you how decisions must be made when you work in a group," she said. "You see the problems that may arise and the real situations you may be placed in as a decision-maker." At the end of the weekend, students presented their plans to Wharton juniors Brian Butler and Marek Gootman, who co-directed the program. Butler and Gootman judged the groups on the basis of the quality of overall analysis and presentation of their program for success. Calling themselves, "Muggers International," the winning group won praise from Gootman with their temperture-regulating thermos and their comprehensive analysis. He stressed that the purpose of the weekend was not only product formation but also to develop ideas for the product's implementation. "They were comprehensive and very rational in their study of how they would implement their business," Gootman added. "Because they clearly identified their goals, restraints, and resources, they'd be successful." A large number of the participants viewed EntreCon as a solid foundation for their future business endeavors and studies. Many said they hope that their participation in the conference will augment their chances for admission to the University. Purvi Patel, a high school senior from New Jersey, said she came to EntreCon looking for direction and said that the conference provided that for her. "I wasn't sure what type of business I wanted to go into," Wolfe said. "The speeches gave me an idea of the opportunities out there, and now I know what I want to do."

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