With market research and financial projections completed, Upper School students in Mr. John Daly’s Honors Investment and Entrepreneurship classes took to the stage and presented their business plans to five panelists, in a competition similar to the Shark Tank format.
The competition, which was held on Friday, March 8, gave students the opportunity to advance to the final rounds of the ‘Innovate South FloridaBusiness Plan Competition’, which will take place in Miami on Wednesday, April 10 and benefits the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE).
Over the past several weeks, 50 students in Mr. Daly’s classes came up with their own original businesses and developed business plans. With ideas for the costs of the start-up, the marketing strategies, revenue and much more, the proposed plans were intricate, in-depth, and professional.
After several rounds of in-class presentations, students voted on which teams would move forward to the final rounds of the competition. It came down to just four business plans for Friday’s finalist round, where students stood up in front of their peers, as well as a panel of esteemed judges, and presented their unique ideas in the Dr. Albert Cohen Family Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.
The judges, members of the SA community, Leif Andersson, Jonathan Seltzer, Melissa Darnell, Felix DeHerrera, and Gary Peters, have worked in the business field for many years, making their career experience valuable in the competition for not only judging the students’ work but also for relevant feedback, tips, and overall help in moving their ideas forward.
Each finalist or group of finalists was given several minutes to pitch their business plans to the panel. After each presentation, students were asked questions by the judges as part of the deliberation period. The pitches were extremely innovative and unique, making it a tough decision for the judges to decide which plan to advance to the final round.
“It was great to see how students worked so well together and continued to revise and improve their plans,” said Mr. Daly. “They learned that finding an original business plan is not easy and that being flexible and making pivots is essential as one works through and develops a business plan.”
Finalist Melania Zilo ‘19 created her business with a love for fashion and shopping in mind. Her business pitch, Find The Fit, an app for online shopping that would allow users to virtually try on clothing and accessories, calls for the need of augmented reality and artificial intelligence, an untapped resource in the online shopping market.
Finalist group, Anthony Molle ‘19, Jack Schwartz ‘20, Siena Vasan ‘20, and Chenye Yuan ‘19, stood on stage and pitched their business idea for an athletic film platform. The tool, Sports Statistics Service, would allow athletic teams and coaches to send in raw footage from athletic events and receive edited highlights and statistics as a return. This particular venture would help organize film watching for all sports teams looking to enhance their game.
Ben Mores ‘19 and Milana Novick ‘19 came together and used their interest in surfing to inspire them for their invention and business pitch, Surf Snap. This particular business features a surf leash that uses innovative, dynamic technology to make the necessary piece more comfortable and safer for a surfer on the water.
The final group, Chloe Bogen ‘19, Dalen Michaels ‘19, Adam Stiefel ‘19, and William Swann ‘19, put their talents together to create HighSchoolArtists.com, a website where high school art students can post and sell their impressive work, giving shoppers the chance to purchase high-end art for an affordable price. The website is more than just a shopping venture, however, it is a proposed tool for high school students, giving them the option to showcase their work to a broader audience and turn their passion into a profitable career.
After careful deliberation of these four business plans, it was ultimately the HighSchoolArtists.com team that was named the winning team. The four Scots will now move on to the final round in the competition on April 10, 2019, at the Miami Dade College Idea Center and pitch their business plan against finalists from other independent schools in South Florida.
“My group and I have been working diligently over the past two months to make our presentation a success. We've spent hours after school and on weekends practicing, contacting artists, coding the website, communicating with the SA Art Department and more,” said Chloe Bogen, Chief Marketing Officer for HighSchoolArtists.com.
“As a group, we see this victory as a stepping stone to make HighSchoolArtists.com a fully running business! We are very proud of all of our accomplishments thus far and are excited to compete again in Miami this April!”
The Business Plan Competition allows Upper School Scots to not only practice what they are learning inside the classroom and apply it to real-life situations but also provides the opportunity for them to tap into their biggest and brightest business ideas and turn them into a reality.
At Saint Andrew’s, experiences like this are unique for students as they go on to make their impact on the world. NFTE strives to inspire students to make that impact by providing entrepreneurship education programs to low-income students so that they can pursue educational opportunities, start their own businesses, and succeed in life. Through competitions such as these, NFTE empowers all students to own their educations in and outside of the classroom.
By participating in this competition, Saint Andrew’s Scots helped NFTE serve and impact students in their own backyard. NFTE South Florida is currently serving 63 public schools and has impacted over 36,000 young people.
Teacher John Daly said the NFTE business plan competition is important as it, “allows students to be creative and to solve a problem while determining if it is financially viable. In our world, we will need more and more entrepreneurs who are able to create new businesses. Hopefully, this program will enable students to think about the opportunities of becoming an entrepreneur and solving a problem while providing a way of life for themselves and others.”
A special thank you to all who helped make the Second Annual Business Plan Competition a great one here at SA. The Scots community can’t wait to cheer on the HighSchoolArtists.com team as they go on to represent Saint Andrew’s School.