Dundee-Crown students awarded $20,000 for mud-resistant athletic cleat concept

 
 
Updated 5/5/2017 9:22 AM
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  • Student-run company Cleat Defense presents its business model Thursday to a group of investors during Dundee-Crown High School's second annual "Pitch Night."

      Student-run company Cleat Defense presents its business model Thursday to a group of investors during Dundee-Crown High School's second annual "Pitch Night." Lauren Rohr | Staff Photographer

  • Classmate, a team of student entrepreneurs in the Business INCubator class, celebrates after winning second place Thursday in Dundee-Crown High School's second annual "Pitch Night." Mark Seigle, president of Seigle's Cabinet Center, sat on the board of investors and announced the winners.

      Classmate, a team of student entrepreneurs in the Business INCubator class, celebrates after winning second place Thursday in Dundee-Crown High School's second annual "Pitch Night." Mark Seigle, president of Seigle's Cabinet Center, sat on the board of investors and announced the winners. Lauren Rohr | Staff Photographer

  • Cleat Defense, a group of student entrepreneurs in the Business INCubator class, celebrates winning Dundee-Crown High School's second annual "Pitch Night" Thursday. The team received a $20,000 startup package to help them launch their small business.

      Cleat Defense, a group of student entrepreneurs in the Business INCubator class, celebrates winning Dundee-Crown High School's second annual "Pitch Night" Thursday. The team received a $20,000 startup package to help them launch their small business. Lauren Rohr | Staff Photographer

  • Dundee-Crown High School junior Danny Price shows investor and judge Mark Seigle an athletic cleat after it has been sprayed with the Cleat Defense product. The student-run business won first place Thursday in the Carpentersville high school's second annual "Pitch Night."

      Dundee-Crown High School junior Danny Price shows investor and judge Mark Seigle an athletic cleat after it has been sprayed with the Cleat Defense product. The student-run business won first place Thursday in the Carpentersville high school's second annual "Pitch Night." Lauren Rohr | Staff Photographer

A team of student entrepreneurs from Dundee-Crown High School were awarded a $20,000 startup package to help launch their small business, which markets and sells a mud-resistant spray for athletic cleats.

Cleat Defense, a concept developed by students in the Business INCubator class, received the first-place prize Thursday during the Carpentersville high school's second annual "Pitch Night." The team was one of five student-run companies that presented their business models to investors in a competition similar to the TV show, "Shark Tank."

"It was a huge team effort throughout the whole year," junior Avery Lovaglia said of Cleat Defense. "It's a great moment to know that all that hard work we did paid off."

At the beginning of the academic year, Business INCubator teacher Nick Pahl asked each team to come up with a potentially profitable solution to a common problem. As a group of high school athletes, the Cleat Defense team started brainstorming an affordable way to keep their athletic shoes clean in inclement weather.

They experimented with household products unrelated to sports equipment and found one that would prevent mud from getting clogged on the bottom of their cleats. The team is now hoping to partner with the undisclosed company to relabel, advertise and sell the aerosol spray in sports markets.

"We just feel like we're deserving of the title," junior Grant Long said. "We're so dedicated to moving this forward and furthering ourselves and other athletes as well."

The startup package includes seed money and resources donated from the community, such as business consultation, accounting, marketing and web services. The winners will also attend a summer entrepreneur institute and run the business from the classroom in the second level of the INCubator program next year.

Luis Cruz, the group's only senior, is planning to study business at a local college so he can stay involved with Cleat Defense. The team also includes juniors Danny Price and Anthony Hurgoi.

"I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do after high school," Cruz said. "This class helped me really decide that I want to study business."

Classmate, a communication service for high school and college students, was named runner-up. Though they didn't receive startup funds, those students will also get the opportunity to launch their business in the class's next level.

The Business INCubator class is part of the Community Unit District 300 Pathway Programs, which offer students real-world experience to prepare them for college and careers.

After coming up with their business ideas, Pahl said, each of the 11 teams in the class worked with mentors and community volunteers to develop prototypes, marketing strategies and financial projections. Those business models were pitched last week to the board of investors, a group of local business experts who chose the top five teams that moved on to "Pitch Night."

"It's the second year of the program, so we got some of the bumps and bruises out," Pahl said. "I think we've built a system from last year that's going to allow (students) to be even more successful."

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