Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

December 27, 2013

Students learn business skills

Diane Raver The Herald-Tribune
The Batesville Herald-Tribune

---- — Oldenburg Academy students in Jonathon Maple’s entrepreneurship class recently participated in the Maverick Challenge, a high school business planning competition. The academy is the only school in Ripley and Franklin counties enlisted in the contest, according to him.

Sponsored locally by the Ripley County Community Foundation’s Economic Opportunities through Education by 2015, Franklin County Community Foundation and Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce, “it aims to further develop the innovative spirit of the region by reaching out to high school students, showing them viable career opportunities through entrepreneurship. Students must be a junior or senior and live in a participating county.” Teams are made up of one, two or three students, the teacher reveals.

“The students take their idea and develop it to a real concept and move it into a full business plan. They go through many different steps, including marketing, finances, management, industry, and learn the full scope of everything a business plan entails.

“They have the opportunity to have feedback given to them. Community business leaders (Tom Glaser, Toby Oesterling, Mary Ellen Rippe, Rita Seig and Marlene Wukusick) mentor the students .... They did a fantastic job. Students also have a Pitch-Panel Feedback Forum (Lynn Fledderman, Bob Koester and Ham Struewing), where they pitch their ideas to the forum and gain initial feedback. Students then finalize the business plan and then it is submitted to a panel of community judges.

“While the judges spend three days reviewing the business plan, students are preparing for their 20-minute presentation. It is very similar to ‘Shark Tank’ – They give a presentation of their businesses and go through any questions the judges may have.”

Winners were announced Dec. 16. Seniors Daniel Mullen and Taylor Reed placed first with News Mapp.

“It’s an iPhone app that allows users to create their own profile and get a personalized news feed ... with a user-friendly interface,” Reed points out.

From the experience, Mullen says he learned “about the process of starting your own business and raising the capital to start.”

Second-place honors went to seniors Luke Hammoor, Peter Weisbrod and Josh Hollingsworth for Got Your Back, Bro.

Hammoor explains, “It’s a gift giving and reminder service that helps guys purchase gift packages for their loved ones.”

Hollingsworth says he and his teammates learned the importance of “working together.”

Weisbrod notes, “If we ever feel like starting a business, it will be helpful.”

Seniors Cora Weisenbach and Isaiah Frey placed third with LED’D, a LED light attachment for mailboxes that makes it easy for owners of homes, farms and businesses to make their property distinct and easily identifiable.

Weisenbach learned “how much work it is to start a business.” The competition “gave us the chance to professionally speak and present to adults.”

In addition, Frey says, “It taught us to plan ahead.”

Maple announces the prizes included $500, $300 and $200 for first through third places, respectively. “The beauty about this competition is that the first-, second- and third-place business winners will move on to the regional competition (at the end of February in Columbus with its chamber), where they will compete against (students at) other area schools to see who has the most viable business.” They eventually have a chance of winning up to $10,000 in prize money, depending on how the judges see the money should be distributed.

After participating in this challenge, he hopes his students “learn all the functions of a business and what goes into a business plan. Yes, it would be easier for me to stand up and lecture about this – but that is not an authentic learning experience. Not only do students learn how to put together a business plan, but they are prepared for their future.

“Business skills are used in every profession. Students are given the opportunity to really put themselves outside of their comfort zone, work together as a team on a long-term project, learn professional etiquette and work with some outstanding community members. The skills they gained from this experience will help them for years to come.”

Diane Raver can be contacted at diane.raver@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 114.