CINCINNATI -- Seven Hills School students recently had a chance to swim with the sharks.
OK, not literally. The budding entrepreneurs at Ohio’s largest private, non-denominational school got a chance to pitch their ideas for hypothetical startups to a panel of local business executives in a format based on the television show “Shark Tank."
A group of 12 Seven Hills juniors and seniors formed four teams to create apps, which were then presented to judges, parents, faculty and peers.
“It’s really important to have this kind of hands-on experience where you can hear from professionals about how a product will work. We need this kind of real world information,” said student Jeremiah Weaver, who was in the winning team.
Nick Francis, Seven Hills’ director of experiential learning, and Mike Collette, founder and CEO of Patient Point and executive-in-residence at CincyTech organized the two-hour event that served as the culmination of an entrepreneurship seminar.
Collette and Francis, who taught the seminar, instructed the students to develop a business plan, turn it into a viable business proposal and then pitch the ideas to local business leaders.
Here are the four projects:
- I a.m. Awake -- A way to revolutionize alarm clocks. A user answers trivia questions for rewards when they turn off the alarm. The rewards could be gift cards for restaurants, clothing, or shoes. Jeremiah Weaver, 18, of Colerain Township; Tommy Robinson, 17, of Mount Lookout; and Adam Shim, 18, of Anderson won the contest, which had no actual prize.
- Out of This World -- An educational car game for children 6 to 8 years old to keep them from being bored on long journeys. Inspired by the popular Pokémon Go game, the child is a “virtual hunter” who searches for clues to find a location. Ashley Labrie, 18, of Glendale; Anjali Gupta, 17, of Montgomery; and Colin Shields, 18 of Mount Lookout designed the concept app.
- GiftMe -- An app to help people identify appropriate gifts for others in different demographic groups. Charlie Karamanoukian, 16, of Mount Lookout; Max Routh, 16, of Mount Adams and Quinn Hoffman, 16, of Mount Lookout created this for all those who wander aimlessly at mall for the perfect gifts.
- Fetch -- A price-comparison tool that helps people to get the lowest price on a product they have already decided to buy, down to the make and model. Tindar Cyr 17, of East Walnut Hills; Chase Byington, 18, of West Chester Township; and Thomas Arya, 17, of Newtown designed this.
The judges said that ideas would be expensive to implement but they were impressed by the thoughtful and intelligent presentations.
“I have been doing this for many years and I would absolutely invite all of you back for a second showing because you are smart and innovative,” judge Mike Venerable, CEO of Cincytech, said to the participants.
Students said that the feedback from the judges was invaluable. That’s exactly what Francis and Collette were aiming for when they created the course.
“We need to go beyond the classroom. It’s not about what you know, it’s what you can do with it,” Collette said.
“We wanted to keep it real,” he said. “The students worked hard at perfecting their public speaking and researching their material. They pulled it off. We feel like proud parents.”
The students have had some practice. During the semester, they served as business consultants to Sixteen Bricks Artisan Bakery and Skinnymom.com. They met with business owners, who gave them an explanation of their businesses and asked them to solve the challenges they were facing. The students offered them solutions at school presentations.
Meanwhile, the winners said they were inspired enough by the praise to form a business immediately.
Right now, though, they are focused on picking the right colleges. And in case you’re wondering, there are several apps for that already.
The “sharks” serving as judges were: