Above, Marco Vargas balances school and work, as a straight-A student and CEO of his own company.

Click on the photo to see Marco Vargas’ entry in the Hope Global Forums Youth Pitch Competition.

Marco Vargas recalls going to family weddings and quinceañeras when he was younger and seeing how stressed the hosts felt during and after the festivities.

“They would tell me that they would never plan or do another party again because they were so exhausted,” said Marco, now an 18-year old senior and a valedictorian at Nava College Preparatory Academy. “I wanted to start a business that would ensure the event host and coordinators have a stress-free night.”

Marco was able to turn his dream into reality, thanks to a financial literacy class he took during his sophomore year. Assigned to draft a business plan, he devised Waiters in Distress, an event staffing company specializing in providing part-time help for weddings, birthdays and corporate events. He took his idea to Operation HOPE, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that teaches the basics and provides support to young aspiring entrepreneurs.

With the help of his business mentors, Marco learned about liability insurance, crowdfunding, marketing and communications. He also received a Business in a Box grant from the organization, which allowed him to open Waiters in Distress in 2016. He now has 10 employees – current and former Nava students – and runs his business from his Facebook page.

Waiters in Distress employs 10 current and former students of Nava College Preparatory Academy.

“We have strong ties to our Los Angeles community,” said Marco, who is CEO of Waiters in Distress. “We built this business so that we can also help our classmates help their families. Much of what they earn goes to pay family bills and pay for food.”

Mentors from Operation Hope also encouraged Marco to enter the Hope Global Forums Youth Pitch Competition – a “Shark Tank”-like program that won him $1,200 to expand his business. He has also picked up investors interested in expanding the company to San Francisco, Boston and Atlanta.

“My partners and I are planning to hire students from the local community colleges and universities,” he said. “I believe this is a business plan that will continue to help families in so many ways.”

Marco will soon be running his business from New Hampshire or Maine. With a 4.3 GPA, he has fielded scholarship offers from Dartmouth and Bowdoin colleges and is weighing his options.

“I intend to give back to my community through providing long-term employment opportunities after learning more about real estate, finance, stocks and business management,” said Marco, who plans to major in computer science and economics. “I will never forget where I came from.”