“I’m so proud of these kids for sticking it out. This is not an easy class for high school students with everything they're involved in. This class is about starting a business in seven months, which is not easy at the high school level. I hope they understand the process and how much work goes into it,” said Bryan Peckhart, teacher.
The week of May 15, ten teams pitched their ideas and business models in a preliminary round. Five of those teams advanced to Pitch Night. The final five teams included Find Fresh, created to solve the hassle of buying and selling fresh local produce by using an app; Train Together, an app designed to solve the lack of communication between coaches and athletes in the off-season; Equipment Lodge, an all in one website for new and used sporting gear; Fridge 4.0, a company that solves the lack of water and ice in a college dorm room; and InSourced, a portable networking app for business professionals.
“It took us awhile to find a really good idea and for it to take off. This class is the closest you can get to the real world,” said Cole Brown, Prairie Ridge senior.
Entrepreneurs and business experts in the community served as volunteer coaches and mentors to guide student teams throughout the process. Lessons focused on planning, business regulation, finances, insurance, legal, sales, and marketing.
“The idea came to us when Robbie’s mom was complaining about not being able to find fresh produce and Trey had worked on a farm and knew the struggles farmers had with promoting their product and farm stands,” said Tyler Covers, Prairie Ridge Senior.
Cole Brown, Tyler Covers, Trey Fuchs, and Robert Masini were named the winners of the first ever D155 Business Incubator Pitch Night for developing Find Fresh. Their mentors were Brian and Cheryl VanderLaan. Each student won a cash prize of $150. All four students are seniors and plan to continue their business this summer.
“As a team, we will take this as far as it can go and pitch it over the summer. We plan to visit farm bureaus in the area and in Chicago,” said Trey Fuchs.
The Find Fresh team credits their success to their mentors Brian and Cheryl VanderLaan who guided them through the entire school year. They talked about start up costs, and connected the team with a programmer who created a prototype app.
“This class taught us how to work with different people on a professional level and prepared us to present to investors,” said Robert Masini, Prairie Ridge senior.
Cole Brown will attend the University of Kansas to study business. Tyler Covers will study entrepreneurship at the University of Kansas. Trey Fuchs will study marketing and
international studies at St. Louis University. Robert Masini will attend Baylor University in the fall to study finance.
Joseph Pinsky, David Vogt, and Samuel Price who created and implemented their business Equipement Lodge earned the runner up spot. Mike Domek was the team’s mentor. Each student won a $75 cash prize.