New Trier student entrepreneurship team wins $11,000 at The Next Launch competition

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New Trier High School sophomores Camille Scrine, Cole Jiaras and Lauren Schwaab are receiving $11,000 to make their small business dreams a reality after placing as first runners-up in The Next Launch, a regional business pitch competition for high school students at the Indiana IoT Lab on May 16.

The entrepreneurship students and fellow team member Ethan Lestrud, who could not attend the competition, created "Spark," a mobile app that will allow homeowners to sell parking spaces for one-time events on their driveway or in their garage. They came up with the idea after discussing parking demand at New Trier events, but the students see it as being applicable to athletic events, concerts, street fests, and more in the Chicagoland area and beyond.

Another New Trier entrepreneurship student, Brian Chung, earned $1,000 at the competition for advancing the final round among nine teams with his one-time use Apple device charger called ePod. Chung plans to sell the recyclable devices straight to businesses, which could brand them as marketing giveaways.

The competition came at the culmination of New Trier's inaugural, year-long entrepreneurship program, INCubatoredu. On May 10, five student entrepreneurship teams presented their final business concepts before a panel of industry experts at the Winnetka Campus, and three qualified for The Next Launch competition, hosted by the Ron Rubin School for the Entrepreneur at Culver Academies. Those teams included the snack food concept "Bakon Bites" by Charlie Kendal, "ePod" and "Spark."

Throughout the year-long INCubatoredu course, student teams work to take business ideas from concept to successful funding in an incubator environment designed to replicate real entrepreneurship challenges. A panel of judges comprised of local business leaders facilitated the May 10 event by asking each team a series of questions to determine if their business concept was worthy of investment

INCubatoredu is a nationally recognized program that provides a specialized curriculum including online instructional materials, a coaching and mentoring framework and professional development for teachers and volunteers. The New Trier Educational Foundation is supporting this initiative by providing funding to help secure the licenses necessary for New Trier teachers to have access to these resources. If you would like to contribute toward the licensing fees, the Foundation is accepting donations at www.newtrierfoundation.org/biz-ed

Kristi Fischer, New Trier Business Education Department Chair, noted that the program creates opportunities for members of the community to participate as mentors or coaches of New Trier students.

At The Next Launch competition, each team presented a business idea that included a description of the product, company or service and its market need. The business idea was also required to include selling propositions, along with the future growth characteristics of the product or service. A panel of professional business leaders judged the competition and selected the winning team.

"There's a huge need for entrepreneurial development at a high school level," said Alex Kurrelmeier, director of the Ron Rubin School for the Entrepreneur. "Our goal is to make The Next Launch a national competition to fill that gap.

Twenty-four teams from eight schools participated at this year's competition, and each team presented a five-minute pitch in the first round. After the first round, nine teams advanced to the final round, earning $1,000. The final nine teams pitched, with the top 3 earning additional money.