SM West Business Class Concludes with Pitch Competition

SM West Business Class Concludes with Pitch Competition
Shawnee Mission School District

Students are collaborating with mentors to kickstart business ideas and turn them into reality. The five teams in Tiffany Dixon’s Introduction to Business class from SM West have researched and developed business plans for a concept of their choosing. The class culminates in a Shark Tank-like pitch session with opportunities for voting on January 15, 2021

The five teams and concepts include:

1. Helper Express: Creating a New Option for Tutoring and Academic Supports

2. The Homies: Creating a New Option for Youth Aging Out of Foster Care

3. The Rocks: Creating a New Option for Outdoor Game and Sport

4. Team Infographic: Creating a New Option for Skincare

5. The Twisted Turtles: Creating a New Option for Arts and Engagement

The pandemic served as the reason the Twisted Turtles decided to commit their business plan to help older people get involved with hobbies.

“I see this as an opportunity to give back,” noted Hannah, team member. Many older folks are isolated.” The team’s goal is to offer opportunities for activities that can be done at home or from an assisted living facility. There are a variety of online opportunities from learning a language to a virtual tour or trip to learning how to cook something new.

Mallory Ozier, 50 Plus Recreation Coordinator, Johnson County Parks and Recreation, is the team’s mentor. She counseled the team to look at competitors as friendly rivals, not opponents, and challenged them to move these folks to become a partner or sponsor.

Jhoanna is the team leader of a group working on a natural and inclusive line of skincare products. She shared that oftentimes skincare is stereotyped to include only girls, but she believes everyone should be interested in taking care of their skin. Their line of products is targeted to 12 to 21-year olds. Karen Squires Foelsch, Certified Business Mentor SCORE Kansas City, Powered by the Small Business Administration helps coach this team. She recommended the team join a national soap-making guild to get discounted raw materials.

The Helper Express team’s goal is to give young people a tool to help them study and are collaborating with the Johnson County Library. Coach Kate McNair, Teen Services Coordinating Librarian, is helping the team differentiate their concept. The team is focusing on homework and tutoring to be available at the public library. The team discussed the possibility of using a subscription model for their services.

The Rocks team is hoping to be the “one-stop shop” for all Kansas outdoor activities including biking, hiking, hunting, and fishing. Since the pandemic, many people are trying outdoor activities for the first time. Currently, someone must visit several different sites to gain information about trails, what type of hunting or fishing license is required, and what is currently in season.

“It’s really piecemeal information across the internet,” Alaine Hudlin, Wildlife Education Coordinator Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, team coach shared. For many Kansans, this is the first time they will experience the outdoors Hudlin noted. There is a need to have one place for visitors to find all outdoor information year-round. Hiking, fishing, and hunting all have different seasonal information. Hudlin explained the differences between reservoirs, public land, preserves, and parks

Team member Gage shared that he hunts with his grandpa and it would be really helpful to have better information about where and when to hunt and the different limits.

Finally, The Homies team are working on a new option for youth aging out of foster care. Their plan includes providing mental health and social services and housing.

“Youth age out of foster care and oftentimes have no housing,” Noah, Homies team member said. “We hope to provide housing options to set us apart.” The team has researched foster care centers and have been mentored by Jordan Lewis, Transition Advocate YouThrive, Inc. Lewis suggested the team think about ways they might incentivize youth to select their organization.

You may learn more about each team and their pitches  here.

Voting opens at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, January 15 and closes at 8:59 p.m. on Wednesday, January 20. Only one vote is allowed per email address. All emails will be validated after voting closes.

Dixon believes these pitch opportunities help to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in students. She is especially grateful to coaches and mentors who provide critical feedback and support to each team providing real-world learning experiences.

Subject-matter experts and professionals across all career fields are encouraged to join next semester’s competition. Coaches will be matched with teams with mutual interests and schedules that match their availability.

Students who want to create their own teams independently or work with other teachers in the district can create and submit a pitch in next semester’s competition. This competition is open to teachers and students across all interests and content including core academic and Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes. Learn more about opportunities for coaching and participating here. Look for future pitch sessions during the spring semester.