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Evangelista named Young Entrepreneur of the year

Natalie Sommer and Mackenzie Sendro

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Senior Aaron Evangelista is a cat person, and now it has paid off.

Evangelista designed and makes two types of cat toys, and he already has made $1,000 in profit selling them at area pet stores and special events. As a result, he has been named regional Young Entrepreneur of the Year in a contest run by the financial services corporation Ernst & Young.

Evangelista was nominated by Startable Pittsburgh, a program that teaches students ages 16-18 the skills of being an entrepreneur.

Evangelista’s involvement with the program started with a simple question: Gifted coordinator Jared Hoffman asked Evangelista to attend a Junior Achievement business field trip last school year. Evangelista went on the field trip and found out about Startable, and decided to attend its summer program.

“Going on the field trip was spontaneous and I didn’t expect anything to come from attending,” Evangelista said.

The summer entrepreneurs program has various tracks that participants can choose from, including one on creating and selling cat toys and related products. Evangelista created two cat toys using cardboard and glue, because the materials are cheap and easy to get.

His products are called the Kitten Kave and the Wibble Wabble. The Kitten Kave is a cat scratcher that resembles a cone or hive that kittens also can sleep in. It is sold for $35. The Wibble Wabble is a cat toy with catnip in its center. They are sold for $4 each.

Evangelista makes his products at TechShop, a business incubator located in East Liberty. He has friends help him glue and assemble the cat toys.

“The cat toys are made from 100 percent recycled cardboard. They are safe for both the cat and the environment,” Evangelista said.

The products are sold at Petagogy in East Liberty and Greensburg, and Larry’s Laundromutt in Edgeworth. Evangelista has made over $1,000 in profit since he started last year.

Evangelista will be recognized in June at a ceremony hosted by Ernst & Young.

In the past Evangelista has created drones and notebooks. He hopes to continue designing new things after high school.

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Evangelista named Young Entrepreneur of the year