For a second year in a row, Cary-Grove’s entrepreneurship students placed in the top two spots at the state competition earning them a spot at the National Business Competition in New York City. This year, the team felt the pressure to repeat their predecessors success. They remember the bus ride to Northern Illinois University for the State Business Plan Competition was tense.
“On the bus ride there we were all pretty nervous, to the point where none of us could eat anything. We focused on our first pitch, and just rehearsed it over and over making sure it sounded perfect. To be able to represent not only our school and community, but also the state of Illinois in New York is an incredible opportunity, and we are all beyond excited,” said Kelly Stayart, Cary-Grove student.
There are six presenters plus a team manager/alternate. Matt Ahmann, Alex Becker, Kiara Roe, Kelly Stayart, Erik Stiegman, Barrett Wellendorft and Zach Zuder spent months working on a business plan for for VEI (Virtual Enterprises International) – an entrepreneurship class offered at more than 500 high schools across the country.
In order to learn how their proposed engraving business would operate in a real market, the students met with a dozen business professionals, visited TOBG Engraving, a local engraving business, partnered with the Industrial Tech department at Cary-Grove and conducted focus groups with members of the Booster Club. They mastered their presentation skills by inviting the Drama sponsor Laura Whalen and the Speech coach Stephanie Sukow to evaluate them.
“All of the teams put in a lot of work and they all have a sense of pride for what they’ve done. This has high stakes, and that has motivated these future business leaders to put in the hours of overtime outside of class,” said David Cook, VEI teacher at Cary-Grove High School.
The Entrepreneurship students will host an Open House on January 9 at Cary-Grove High School to meet with community members interested in learning more about the team and listening to the team’s plan to offer them feedback. Business leaders and community members who want to attend the Open House should contact David Cook, firstname.lastname@example.org.
“VEI is my favorite class that I have taken in high school, the way it is structured and the way we do work is very unique and makes the class seem like a real business. The class has had a major impact on me. I have fully committed to taking more business classes and becoming an entrepreneur,” said Barrett Wellendorft, Cary-Grove student.
The National Business Plan competition is April 16-18, 2018 in New York City. The team has a $7,500 fundraising goal through YouCaring to assist with costs related to travel and hotel accommodations.