Find an every-day, real-world problem, then fix it by developing an item or service that is practical to produce, marketable, popular, and will generate enough profit to attract investors.
Every senior at Leroy Greene Academy is given that challenge as part of a yearlong entrepreneurial project in which teams of up to five students apiece practice collaboration, creativity, analysis, research, critical thinking and problem-solving. It’s 21st century learning in which answers aren’t necessarily found in books.
The five most promising ideas were unveiled to the public last night, Pitch Night, at the Crest Theatre in downtown Sacramento. Finalists explained and defended their projects, marketing plans, revenue projections and other specifics to a four-person panel or entrepreneurial professionals in a format similar to the “Shark Tank” TV show.
The five leading contenders were:
· EvoBagz — Compostable bags designed to house lawn trimmings and, once filled, they can be dropped into a recycling bin to reduce use of plastic bags that don’t easily decompose in the environment.
· First Care — A door-dash delivery service for over-the-counter health care products, such as cold medicine, for people who are feeling sick but are too busy or uncomfortable to run to a pharmacy.
· Grand Plan — An online service that recognizes the counseling crunch at many California high schools and hopes to ease it by offering families private counseling — $100 for two hours – to help students prepare for college.
· Green Minded – A website for inexperienced, job-seeking teens and young adults, ages 15-20, and companies wanting to hire them. Green Minded would provide hope and new opportunities for youth struggling to find jobs because they lack a track record.
· Prime Time Lunch – A service to tackle the problem of school cafeterias running out of popular daily entrees. Through an app, students could order in advance, thus ensuring they get food they want and enabling cafeterias to be more efficient by not producing too much or too little of an entrée.
The judges served a watchdog roll at Pitch Night, asking the LGA teams probing, think-on-your-feet questions about the viability of their proposals: How would you solicit business? How much would customers pay? What competition exists? How much profit would you generate? How much money are you seeking from investors? How much equity would investors receive? How quickly could your business grow?
Grand Plan ultimately won the top prize for its four-person student team of Mirabelle Quilatan, who will attend UC Davis next year; Xavier Canas, UC Merced; Liliana Cabrera and Zachary Hurd, both CSU Chico. Winners receive a $50 Target gift card, a Strapping Store gift card, an exclusive cord to wear at graduation, and three extra graduation tickets.
Grand Plan team members said they learned a lot during the yearlong project, including the mechanics of entrepreneurship, things like research and marketing. They also refined skills they can use in college and throughout their lives, such as collaboration, teamwork, critical thinking and problem-solving.
All LGA students prepare for college, in part, by taking an academic pathway – either Business Entrepreneurship or Visual Arts & Technology. Seniors in both pathways combine for the entrepreneurship project, which includes mentoring by business professionals throughout the year.