High school students took to the stage of Wentz Concert Hall to pitch their ideas to eight local business leaders. Their goal: secure funding for their startups.
These pitches were the culmination of an entire school year’s worth of work for students from Naperville North and Central high schools.
The hands-on entrepreneurship course is meant to equip students with the skills necessary to start a business.
“That’s the class in a nutshell – it’s real,” said Bryan Peckhart, instructional coordinator of CTE at Naperville North. “They have to hit deadlines, they have to validate and do market research, do interviews, set up phone conversations and meetings.”
Over the course of the business incubator class, students actually follow all the steps of creating a startup, from finding a problem to solve, developing a real product, and trying to attract investors.
“This is what it’s about, this is why you get into teaching: to see kids do awesome things. It’s not a homework assignment you turn in and get a grade. This is real life. They could change their lives tonight,” said Brad Neubauer, business incubator teacher at Naperville Central.
$25,000 in grant money was up for grabs from the Naperville Education Foundation. Cash meant to help students get their startups off the ground.
“Pink Plate” is a dieting app that aims to help cancer patients eat foods that reduce symptoms and side effects of treatment. Their pitch netted them $13,000, the largest award of the evening.
“Not only did I get to work on this real world idea but it helped me with soft skills: public speaking, making compromises, being accountable,” said Camden Benbo, senior at Naperville North and COO of “Pink Plate.”
Another winning team was “NoTripClipz,” who earned $5,000 to help make their shoelace clips for kids a reality.
“Honestly, fake it ‘til you make it. You have to try as hard as you can and even if it doesn’t go as planned, everything turns out working as it should be. Our group, of course we had some protytpes that didn’t work, but the fact that we were able to meet people and work together, we’ve created a great business we can continue on for a few years,” said Grace Lendzion, a junior at Naperville Central and COO of “NoTripClipz.”
You can learn more about the many projects NEF is involved with on their website.
Naperville News 17’s Blane Erwin reports.