Generation EMarquise Zendejas had tasted success as a young entrepreneur before. He, his brother, Isac Nisse and Zach Paul earned an award for the top business plan at the 2014 Lansing Celebrates Youth Entrepreneurship expo.
Wanting to encourage others to experience the Generation E course taught at Crosswalk Teen Center in Charlotte that helped guide their successful venture, the Olivet High School junior enrolled in the course again this year. He was successful at getting others to participate at first. In the end, however, he was the lone student to make it through to the end. But, it paid off in a big way.
Zendejas returned to the Lansing Celebrates Youth Entrepreneurship expo last week, earning second place for his business plan and second place overall for his business, ZenRitmo Cajons (Ka-hones).
“I feel like I was much more professional this time around,” Zendejas said. “It reopened my skills to writing a business plan and I was able to get more guidance from John Bailey since I was doing it by myself.”
Bailey said he saw a much more confident student this time around.
“He was obviously experienced and knew what to expect,” Bailey said. “Rick (Todd) and I just observed him interacting with the judges and you could tell he was relying on that which he was coached.”
Zendejas got the idea for the cajons from Crossweek Teen Center director, Rick Todd and Charlotte Church of Christ youth pastor, Jared Gates. A cajon is a box-shaped percussion instrument wherein a player sits on the instrument and uses one of the sides to create a beat. Zendajas used snare drum belts to give his cajons the buzz of a snare drum. He came up with the name for his business using the feeling of Zen — an inner balance — and Ritmo, the Spanish word for rhythm.
“I definitely plan to keep the business going,” Zendejas said. “I’m working on a web site right now. I already have a request for a cajon from a lady from Detroit who plans to use it for physical therapy for senior citizens.”
Generation E will be offered again at Crosswalk Teen Center, Bailey said. The free program for local youth typically begins after the first of the year.
“I would tell anyone thinking about it to definitely do it,” Zendejas said. “It’s a great experience and teaches you how to be your own boss.”
For more information, contact Crosswalk Teen Center at (248) 987-8336 or visit