Munster High School students pitch business ideas for real funding ( | Education

Students present their pitches in front of a group of judges

Munster High School students present their pitches in front of a group of judges.

Annie Mattea

MUNSTER — Munster High School students were given the unique opportunity to pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges recently.

Students were required to provide information about competition for their product, what their market share would be and several other parts of a business pitch.

Ideas presented included solutions to small cup holders for cars, distraction toys for dogs and air freshener solutions. 

Students were able to request funds from the panel of judges, ranging from asking for approximately $300 to $1,000. The money was from the Munster Education Foundation. 

Judges included Kyle Dempsey, a State Farm agent; Jose Gutierrez, a product manager; Juanita Johnson, of Profitable Solutions; Tricia Shelton, president of the Munster Education Foundation; Mike Maroulis, of Bowman Displays; Amy Van Pelt, ICE and Intercontinental Data Exchange strategic account director; and Dejan Illijevski, investment advisor for SCM Investment Services.   

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The event was part of an Entrepreneurship Capstone class at Munster High School. It is open to any student who has taken four credits of any business class, but many of the students who presented were seniors.

The students began the year looking at a problem they found worth solving. They then had to form teams to solve the problem and create a business model canvas, a one-page business plan that helped students determine estimated costs, estimated revenues, ways they would promote the product to consumers and more. 

They pitched a “minimum viable product,” which is essentially a small version of a solution to get in front of potential consumers to test how it would perform on the actual market. Many teams were looking for funding to get their first prototype and test. 

Several students had already done some tests of their products, but most did not have the exact plan figured out. Judges were able to ask questions, and sometimes students indicated they would have to look more into that issue.

For example, for the dog distraction toy, judges asked about how it would perform with small or large dogs. As the group had not yet created a full prototype, they said that was ongoing and that they would hope to get back to the judges on that subject.

Student teams must now build a prototype, test and begin marketing plans. They will present a final product in May with hopes receiving money to continue their business.

Maria Flores

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