Overnight entrepreneur success is tantalizing for teens, but it’s more than fantasy for Woodstock High School Business INCubator students who received training from local business professionals to prepare them for the future.
About a dozen students in the program spent the school year developing startup companies with the help of more than 30 mentors who are experts in sales, marketing, finance, technology and many other facets of business.
“The coaches are community members who are content experts and have had business success in the real world,” INCubator teacher Dustin Smith said. “At any point throughout the school year, a coach or mentor can be found guiding students in the classroom.”
One group of students developed Lite-Drive, a lighted indicator with a remote that its inventors hope can ease tension for parents and students who are practicing as first-time drivers. Another team designed and developed a business plan for the Cupsert, a car cup holder that adjusts to any size drink.
Over a nine-month period, student teams worked with their mentors, coaches and teacher to fine-tune their prototype, proposing marketing strategies and budgets, projecting growth and profit and anticipating capital needs.
“It’s pretty incredible to see their growth throughout the year – how they grow professionally and with their communications skills, even when they don’t always see eye to eye,” Smith said.
On May 15, the teams competed in INCubator Pitch Night in the Woodstock High School auditorium. Their pitches were judged by the board of investors: Tyler Lewke, Patricia Miller, Ryan Wormley and 2018 graduate Jack Berry, who helped start the INCubator program.
At the event’s conclusion, the board of investors selected Evolution’s product Assero – a makeup tool that helps keep mascara from smudging during application by protecting the eyelid. Student members of Evolution were Julian Alonzo, Destiny Flores, Jerred Grell and Lindsey Wolhart. The team mentor was Jackie Speciale of MAC Automation.
The Cratos team was awarded the second-place prize for its work on the Power Shield – a device that covers the end of a mobile phone charging cord to protect it from bending and fraying. Members of the Cratos team were Kiara Cary and Harrison Saville. Cratos’ mentors were Danielle Gulli, executive director of the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce, and Jim Rocheford of Tech Global.