With the help of Grow Wabash County and INGUARD, Wabash City Schools looked to restart a business program that had been cut in 2012 due to lack of student interest and a shrinking school budget. The desire to create a relevant business career pathway for students led Wabash City School leadership to select the INCubatoredu curriculum for student entrepreneurship skills at Wabash High School.
Generating the Ideas
At the start of the 2018 school year, 16 student-entrepreneurs formed four teams that set out to start businesses.
These student groups worked through practical business lessons (problem/solution ideation, competitive analysis, value proposition, customer segmentation, customer interviews, marketing, financial modeling, and legal advice) to better understand how to start a business.
Many of the lessons were taught by volunteers from the local Wabash community with expertise in their specific field. In addition, each group met on a regular basis with their assigned mentor (Parker Beauchamp, Jordan Tandy, Paul McCann, and Ty Renbarger) to discuss their business ideas.
Bringing 'real' to the Classroom
The effort from the students along with the guidance from a team of business leaders in Wabash County led to a dynamic classroom setting. These students learned practical, real-world lessons by interviewing potential customers to determine the correct target market, working with Excel spreadsheets and a local accountant to create financial models, and communicating with lawyers to file for an LLC. In addition, they formed lasting relationships with local business leaders who unselfishly supported the students with time, energy, and resources.
Pitching for Funding
The student groups pitched their business ideas to a Board of Advisors in February and received up to $500 to test their minimum viable product. Teams spent the next couple months testing their largest assumptions in an effort to build a lasting business.
Shop Fresh, which originally wanted to build a diffuser for the fridge, pivoted based on feedback from potential customers and investors to a simpler concept. They now package a porous rock in small pouches to help extend the life of fresh produce in your fridge.
Student Services started with a business idea based on helping elderly homeowners from their local church with small tasks around the house. They spent the winter months earning over $2000 in gross profit and $1400 in net profit while doing small jobs around the house for homeowners of all ages in Wabash County.
On April 16th, the four teams pitched their ideas at the Innovate Wabash County Pitch Competition. Shop Fresh earned $1500 and Student Services earned $1000. Both also received a business in a box resource from Grow Wabash County. While these two groups of young entrepreneurs earned some money and resources to help grow their businesses, all students in the INCubatoredu class received valuable knowledge and skills needed to start a business.
Fostering Community Connections
Beyond the basic business concepts, these bright young entrepreneurs learned that Wabash, Indiana is willing to support them in any way we can. They learned that Wabash, Indiana is a place where they can start and grow a business. Finally, they formed invaluable relationships with the business leaders of the community that would not have been possible without this class.