Student Entrepreneurship—Limiting Factors? Not Here!

Sparked to Business

Headshot of Alan CarranzaMy name is Alan Carranza, and I am a Career-Technical High School (CTE) student at the South-Western Career Academy. I had an amazing experience in the INCubatoredu high school entrepreneurship class along with my teammates William L., Cayden N., and Nick C., our junior Year of High School.

The South-Western Career Academy draws students from four different ‘home’ high schools and there are 16 different programs or pathways ranging from trades to health care to business. Students In sophomore year are encouraged to apply to the Career Academy and pursue a Career-Technical Education—I applied to the Business Innovation & Entrepreneurship Program because of a connection my teacher made for me.

My interest in business sparked as a sophomore when my AP U.S. History Teacher, Sveti Matejic, connected me with Dr. Roger Bailey at The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business. It was an amazing experience to have a conversation with a business professional for the first time. We had an in-depth conversation about the different fields of business and how each could benefit me. 

What did I get myself into?

At first, my friends would tell me that I was walking into a lot of work in the Business and Entrepreneurship Program, and when I stepped into class that day, I instantly felt a sense of butterflies. It was a new environment that I was not used to. I didn’t know what to expect. 

We were introduced to each other, and then we were told about a year-long project we would be working on. In my head, I told myself, "INCubatoredu? Maybe my friends were right, and this was a mistake.".

A strong start!

In that first week of school, our lab teacher, Alyssa Gift, directed us to do icebreakers and introductions. It was so awkward because we were from all different home schools and backgrounds. Little did I know it was key to helping us select the group members we would work with that year. 

In groups of three, we sat around a small table, introduced ourselves, and got to know each other. I decided to break the ice and ask about sports. Right off the bat, we connected and went into depth about various topics.

Step 1: The Problem

After a couple of minutes, we were given new instruction by ourstudents-post-its teacher...discuss problems we had with a topic. So we talked about common problems athletes have. Our list of Post-It notes was short. We got a second chance, got some direction in creativity, and this time, we went for quantity over quality. Some crazy problems were created during this process, and one of them resonated with all of us:  “I am an athlete struggling to find local fields and athletes to compete against.”

At first, we thought we were the only ones with these problems. We did some research (about 150 interviews at our school). We soon found most of the athletes had the same problem. We were convinced this was the problem for us to solve. 


Unrealistic solution?

We repeated the same process with our solution creation. We had a Post-It Note with “Sports App” written on it with black Sharpie. We put it aside in the pile labeled “Unrealistic.” There was no way high school juniors would be able to create an app!

Days later, our lesson in class was all about having a fixed or a growth mindset. After putting that Post-It Note aside, we pulled it back out!  We conducted solution interviews and interviewed the original 150 people. We found out many were using Instagram, text and phone calls to create teams to play. This was time-consuming and not effective. We knew we were on the right track with our app…

Pursuing a dream…

The Drop In Sporst App Team presenting during an INCubatoredu sessionFrom 2022 to 2024, those same high school students are pursuing a dream of creating an app called “Drop In Sports.”  It allows athletes worldwide to play wherever, whenever, and with whomever they want.  We knew the idea of creating an app in a year was crazy; we expected only to create simple images to show what the wireframe of our app would look like. 


Lots of iteration

We’ve iterated a lot since we started.  We started with a platform called  “Uizard” for our first MVP prototype.  Although we were proud of our first prototype, we knew something was wrong and felt it wasn’t easy enough to use. After more research, we learned that Canva developed an app prototype feature, and it has allowed us to make a prototype that is user-friendly and futuristic. It has allowed us to be more creative with our interfaces and incorporate actual engagement buttons.

Drop In Sports App Mockup


Teaming up with MobileMakersEdu

Our Career-Technical High School does an amazing job of offering an open-mme student workspace.South Western CSD.2019-1door policy for kids to ask other lab teachers questions related to their field. Mr. Derek Fitzer runs the mobile app lab and teaches Mobilemakersedu, a mobile app dev class. We went to him to discuss if he had students interested in creating a wireframe. So now, we are partnering with students Matthew H. and Drystin D. to create a wireframe we can download onto a phone and give our potential market a grasp of what we want to accomplish. 

And, importantly, we are talking to professionals in different fields to get feedback on the user experience and features. John Blake, a High School and Club Soccer Coach, is our lead mentor and provides feedback on the progress of our app. Stacy McPhillips, Marketing Strategist at Pencil Point Marketing Firm, helps us understand different methods of reaching our target audience and ongoing trends.

Life lessons and looking forward

Drop In Sports App team winning the Champion award at the Career Tech Innovation & Entrepreneurship Pitch NightOur next steps are crucial to the app's growth; we are working on creating merchandise to sell and getting our funding. We want to ensure we can launch successfully in Columbus, Ohio. We are set to pitch at the 2024 Ohio SkillsUSA State Competition, where we hope to qualify for Nationals.

As a young entrepreneur, I was afraid of sharing my ideas because they were “too crazy” or “not realistic." In INCubatoredu, I learned many things about business and also life. Most importantly, I learned that life has barriers, and you can think they are limiting factors when, realistically, they open a new path.

"In INCubatoredu, I learned many things about business and also life. Most importantly, I learned that life has barriers, and you can think they are limiting factors when, realistically, they open a new path."
~ Alan Carranza, INCubatoredu Alum

I am now enlisted in the Ohio Army National Guard as an HR Specialist. I will be going to Bootcamp during the summer. I won’t be going to college until my second semester, where I plan to attend one of three universities to major in Marketing and minor in Entrepreneurship. Miami University, Baldwin Wallace, or The Ohio State University. I hope to continue with our app and look forward to this next chapter!  No matter what, it's been an amazing experience.