A service allowing high school students to rent out their parking spots, a teen streetwear brand, and car seat attachments to protect children from overheating were among the winning business ideas at Batavia High School's recent "Pitch Night."
Students in the INCubator Entrepreneurship course presented their budding business ideas for a product or service before a panel of judges during the "Shark Tank"-style event last week at the Batavia Fine Arts Centre. Winning teams were:
• Hyra Parking -- awarded $2,000 for its creative solution to reduce overflow parking on side streets by renting out unused student parking spots in back lots while those students are absent, out sick, visiting colleges or just want to make money.
• West Exit -- awarded $1,800 for its streetwear brand for creative and ambitious teenagers.
• Sunshine Seat -- awarded $1,700 for its innovative car seat attachments designed to protect children from overheating in vehicles.
• GeoFluence -- awarded $1,450 for its influencer marketing agency aimed at helping small businesses advertise through social media.
During the two-semester INCubator Entrepreneurship course from INCubatoredu, students worked in teams to develop a business model, gain market input, test and improve their business concepts. Local entrepreneurs and business professionals served as volunteer coaches and mentors guiding the teams through startup processes. The program includes foundational business topics, such as marketing, human resources, business law, and finance.
"This is authentic learning for our students," said Brad Newkirk, Batavia Unit District 101 chief academic officer. "There are so many important skills that they are learning. They are problem solving with every obstacle that comes their way -- and there are plenty. They are thinking on their feet, having to pivot on ideas, and are constantly collaborating with each other, their team mentor, coaches and instructor."
Officials aim to grow the INCubator Entrepreneurship course at Batavia High, including increasing the number of female participants.
"The first year I started teaching this course, in 2016, we had 23 students and one of them was a female," said Dennis Piron, course instructor. "Next year, we have 70 students enrolled in the course and 10 of them are females. We will continue to work to close the gap between male and female students, making sure more females are taking advantage of entrepreneurship education.
"We are really proud of our expanding program and how it's giving our students real-world, hands-on experiences. It's a great example of how collaborative education can open up opportunities for our high school students," he added.