Marist High School held its third annual pitch night on Wednesday, April 26, which featured students enrolled in Innovative Design for Entrepreneurial Applications (IDEA).
A preliminary round of presentations was held a week prior in which ten teams participated. Six advanced to the finals. Students pitched their companies to a crowd of about 150, including the IDEA executive board, a group made up of successful business leaders from a variety of industries. Potential companies included items for a promotional golf company, a manicure service, and multiple apps.
The winning team members were Brian Fanella, Kyle Kelly, Kevin O'Finn, and Tala Morales. (Mentor: Julie Harrigan)
After all the teams presented, the IDEA executive board deliberated backstage. It was a difficult decision, but in the end, three teams received some level of funding. The first place team with their product Headphones Plus received $10,000 to develop wireless glow-in-the-dark headphones. In second place with a $5,000 funding award, was Bi-Aqua Spigot, a replaceable dual spigot device universally compatible for all major water coolers maximizing time and hydration efficiency. In third place, with a $3,000 funding award, was Door to Door Service, an app that helps connect customers to vetted professionals. All three teams will have to meet benchmarks in continuing to develop their company in order to receive full funding.
Each team worked with an adult mentor throughout the year who brought his or her professional know-how to the group. The class also welcomed notable professionals throughout the year to provide insight to students.
"I am proud of all the students. They did an amazing job of growing individually as well as teammates," course instructor Jim Henneberry said. "They've developed lifelong skills including problem solving, cognitive thinking and team collaboration."
Prize money came from donations to the Marist business curriculum initiative, which also includes finance students investing real money in the stock market, a stock market ticker in the cafeteria, and a move toward hands-on business learning in innovative space at the school. “We want our students to have real world learning experiences so they have every advantage entering college and the work world,” Principal Larry Tucker ’79 explained. “For us that means providing strong curriculum, dynamic space, and current technology. These kids are the leaders for the 21st century, and we want to make sure they have the necessary tools.”
Senior students enrolled in this course created and fully developed their own product or service. Student teams worked through the process of ideation, market research, and business plan development. They learned about marketing, accounting, and human resources, as well as the legal aspects of running a business. This is a hands-on course created to allow students to imagine, design, construct, market, and refine their own business ventures.
2nd Place (left): David Regan, John Ciszewski, Nick Cashman, Moira Blake, Fred Jackson (Mentor: Bob Hawkinson)
3rd Place (right): Edward Kawczynski, Joe Bennett, Molly Moore, Jack Roche, Sarah Mayer (Mentor: Pat Schuler)