GLENVIEW — Ideas for new business ventures are bubbling up at Glenbrook South High School and some of them are ready for test marketing.
These businesses are developing in the business incubator course in entrepreneurship at Glenbrook South High School as part of a new yearlong course where students hope to lure investors toward their venture at a Shark Tank-style sort of final exam.
Students, primarily sophomores and juniors, work in teams developing a business model they will test and possibly get funding to launch, according to Michael Macfadden, who teaches the course. There are some seniors.
“There is a lot of team building and leadership skills developed,” said Macfadden. “They learn how to take advantage of each other’s strengths and cover weaknesses with another’s strength. It’s unlike their other classes.”
Teamwork is also important because Macfadden said a large part of the grade will be joint effort. Macfadden is not the only one doing the teaching. There are coaches from area businesses who talk to the students about areas of specialization like finance or marketing.
Each team also has a mentor from the local business community who acts as an advisor, according to Dawn Hall, the instructional supervisor who heads the business department. She said there is regular contact with the mentor in person, on the phone or through video conferencing.
Students Will Seek Funding From Investors
“This is an authentic experience,” said Hall. “When they walk through the door (of the classroom) they feel they are going to work.”
At the end of the year there will be a Shark Tank-style pitch night where the student teams will present their ideas to a panel of potential investors. Hall said hopefully one of the teams will get funding to develop its business in an advanced class next year.
“If the panel believes in them they can move forward,” said Hall. “They have to show they’re viable. Just the experience of presenting it is invaluable.”
Two teams were funded at Lake Forest High School last year, according to DailyNorthShore.com. That school is teaching the same course for the third straight year. It was developed by INCubatoredu, an educational services company.
The six GBS student-developed businesses include enterprises that work with vintage clothing, event planning, golf instruction, road rallies, clothing art and sports equipment rental, according to Macfadden.
One Stop Sports, the sports equipment rental business, is ready to operate once the lacrosse season starts in March, according to Drew Gonzalez, one of the three students bringing the business to life.
“We rent out sports equipment so parents can see if their children have an interest in a sport,” said Gonzalez, a Glenbrook South junior. “It can cost a lot of money to buy the equipment and the kid may not stick with the sport.”
Gonzalez, along with Dylan Garvey, a junior, and Sean Morrison, a senior, said they chose to focus on lacrosse because one of the coaches at the school put them in touch with Glenview Park District personnel who had used equipment they were able to rent.
Sports Equipment Rental Yields Savings
Lacrosse is a spring sport that fits into the course timing, said Morrison. They will offer their rental services to participants in the park district’s middle school youth lacrosse program. Morrison said equipment purchase can cost between $500 and $600.
Another group of five students—Melanie Macwan, John Hartigan, Andrew Richards, Michael Wyciszkiewicz and Chad Tormoen—have created Shibes. They are engaged in a two-prong approach as they get ready to sell T-shirts with a design created by an artist. They find the artists as well as a manufacturer.
“It’s cool to be doing this and it’s our very own business,” said Macwan.
Macwan said their idea gives young people the chance to get a unique piece of clothing and artists a venue for their creativity. Hartigan said they are reaching out to art schools and classes to find talent.
“We are giving them a chance to display their art,” said Hartigan.
After they get their first run of shirts, they said they plan to set up a table at school to sell them.
Macfadden said the other student run businesses are Vintage Threads, which curates vintage clothing for men; Swing N’Learn, developing a platform to connect novice golfers with experienced coaches; Northside Planners, creating weekend activities for youngsters, and Chicago Engine Club, which plans, hosts and runs car meetups and road rallies for “gearheads” of all ages.
From left, Chad Tormoen, sophomore, and John Hartigan, sophomore, work on their business incubator team’s final exam presentation for a custom-designed t-shirt business, Thursday at Glenbrook South High School. PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE HANDWERKER/JWC MEDIA