Kutches & Abrego: Self-starters overcomeadversity 

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."

Business

New project: Concrete and foundation work for a residential client

Last project: Remodeling for a residential client

Number of e-mails a day: 20

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

Personal

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

About The Author

Will Reisman

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