'Real money on the line' for Dundee-Crown business students

 
 
Updated 5/5/2016 10:30 AM
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  • Students in the Business INCubator class at Dundee-Crown High School present their idea for a small business, MaleBox, to a group of investors Tuesday in the high school's auditorium.

      Students in the Business INCubator class at Dundee-Crown High School present their idea for a small business, MaleBox, to a group of investors Tuesday in the high school's auditorium. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Dundee-Crown High School senior Kevin Andersen Tuesday presents the business plan for MaleBox, a monthly subscription box for young adult males, as part of the Business INCubator class.

      Dundee-Crown High School senior Kevin Andersen Tuesday presents the business plan for MaleBox, a monthly subscription box for young adult males, as part of the Business INCubator class. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Students who created their own startup company in a Business INCubator class present their idea, POPtime, to a group of investors Tuesday in the Dundee-Crown High School auditorium.

      Students who created their own startup company in a Business INCubator class present their idea, POPtime, to a group of investors Tuesday in the Dundee-Crown High School auditorium. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Business INCubator has become more than just a class for Dundee-Crown High School senior Kevin Andersen.

As an aspiring businessman, he's taken business classes before, in which he read textbooks, gave presentations and memorized terminology.

But in just its first year, Business INCubator has turned Andersen and 80 of his peers into entrepreneurs, who have worked with mentors, researched extensively and applied real-world practices to startup companies they created from their original ideas.

"We actually have to do the work to manage a business," said Andersen, whose team started MaleBox, a monthly subscription box for high school- and college-aged men. "I'm learning so much from this. You're literally in the game."

The class became more competitive for the MaleBox team this week, when it was chosen as one of five groups that will present their business plans to a group of investors during Dundee-Crown's inaugural "Pitch Night." The public event, at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the high school's auditorium, will mimic concepts from the television show "Shark Tank."

The prize for the winning team? A $20,000 financial startup package.

"There's real money on the line, rather than just a grade," Andersen said.

All 14 student teams in the class already had a chance this week to present their business plans to the "Board of Investors," comprising local business owners and members of the Community Unit District 300 Foundation. The board then narrowed down the groups based on which they thought would have the best chance at becoming a viable business, said Nicholas Pahl, who teaches the class with Sara Burnett.

Though only five teams advance to "Pitch Night," board members said the experience students have acquired through the class is invaluable.

"This program is so extraordinary in the skills it's teaching," said Kristen Hendricks, founder of Raised Beyond.

The teams participating in "Pitch Night" must promise to continue pursuing the business in the event they win the startup funds, Pahl said. If a team decides it isn't ready for the commitment and bows out of the event, he said, two alternate groups, also chosen by the board, are on standby.

Though only the winning team can receive the startup funds, both the first and second place groups will have the opportunity to run their businesses from the classroom and seek additional funding throughout the next year, Pahl said.

"Pitch Night" finalists

• Toothpaste Tablet, A single-serving pill of toothpaste, which dissolves with saliva and can be used with a regular toothbrush.

Students: Seniors Angel Berumen, Zachary Bromund, Daniel Hernandez-Diaz, Rafal Plewa and Lauren Warner.

Mentor: Yosuf Chaundry, PepsiCo.

• SnapCase: A customizable specialty phone case with interchangeable parts, such as a battery pack or a wallet attachment.

Students: David Baker, junior; Bradley Bartlet, senior; Joshua Fougerousse, senior; Patrick Harvey, senior; and Michael Miskin, sophomore. Mentor: Chris Nelson, Comcast.

• ThreadIt: An app to help users make wardrobe decisions.

Students: Julian Ajroja, sophomore; Edgar Castillo, junior; Tonatiuh Franco, sophomore; Detavious Johnson, senior; Gavino Mora, junior; and Jack Orndah, sophomore. Mentor: Lindsay Coats, Stellar Edge PR.

• MaleBox: A monthly subscription box containing products and supplies for high school- and college-aged men.

Students: Kevin Andersen, senior; Ethan Buhrow, junior; Jake Devincentis, senior; James Epifanio, senior; Adam Melle, senior; and Isiah Ziegler, sophomore. Mentor: Bill Boehm, EMC Corporation.

• First STEP: A company that composts wasted food from restaurants and turns it into fertilizer.

Students: Seniors Ariana Diaz, Cuauhtemoc Fabian, Charles Gilly, Esteban Gonzalez, Michael Holmes, and Gabriel Martinez. Mentor: Andy Burns, Emmett's Brewing Company.

Alternates

• YOUniversity: A mobile-friendly service that provides higher education options by filtering through colleges based on a user's specific criteria.

Students: Russell Bergeron, senior; Xavier Dussard, senior; Satchel Hudson, senior; and Olivia Scarpelli, junior.

Mentor: Geri Alexander, Fresenius-Kabi USA; LeadHERshift Coaching.

• Party Bag: A two-in-one tablecloth that easily turns into a garbage bag after a party.

Students: Maxx Carpenter, junior; Max Herrera, senior; Zachary Odolski, junior; and Kyle Petersdorff, junior. Mentor: Jason Sierpien, Santa's Village Azoosment Park.

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