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Business Incubator Class Expands Next Year

The Comal Independent School District launched a pilot business program at Smithson Valley High School this past fall. The Business INCubator class was designed for students with an entrepreneurial spirit and a dream to own their own business one day. With a successful year almost completed, the district has announced that the program will be offered next year at Canyon High School and Canyon Lake High School as well as SVHS.

The class gives students an opportunity to create and fully develop their own product or service with the guidance of community business partners, coaches and mentors. Currently, the 22 SVHS students who enrolled in the pilot class are gearing up to compete for the opportunity to receive funding for their product or service. Pitch Night: The Final Pitch is scheduled for 6-8 p.m. Friday, May 24, in the SVHS library.

In Shark Tank-style, the young start-up company representatives will present or pitch their product or service to a group of local executives who will decide whether or not to invest or fund their dreams. If funding is awarded, the companies will take the next step in making their products or services a reality.

 


 
Companies vying for funding on Pitch Night include Fash, which is developing an application combining local weather forecasts with fashion trends; Splash Patch, which is offering a urinal insert to help splash back; Overtime Sports, which is hoping to open a local consignment store for gently used kids sports equipment and clothing; Reverse Resale, which is developing an intermediary search platform bringing sellers to buyers who are looking for unique or specific items; and Last Defense, which is offering a high security option for classrooms, a whiteboard with a bulletproof back which can slide over door openings to protect a room or space.
 

From the curriculum, which included the creation of a business model, to the community mentors and coaches who have volunteered their time with the class, students have received a well-rounded view and experienced all aspects of what it takes to manage a business.

“I have a lot more respect for people who have actually started a business,” says SVHS Senior Tristan Vance. “There’s a lot more to it than just filing a bunch of paperwork and forming a business.”

Despite all the hard work, the INCubator class has inspired many of the students to continue to pursue their dreams of becoming entrepreneurs.

 
 
“I want to start a business one day, and this class has really been helpful,” says SVHS Senior Daniel Martinez. “We have learned what it really takes to be successful.”
Community mentors who have worked with the companies include Kaitlyn Craft, owner of Farmhouse Market, a women’s clothing store in Spring Branch; Cory Martelli with the Martelli Insurance Agency; Pat Rodriguez, an independent senior sales director with Mary Kay Cosmetics; Wade Lowry of WRLowry Farms; and Eric Anderson with ERAnderson & Associates.
 
Besides mentors, the class also received business advice from community leaders in various areas, which are important to the success of any business. Heather Miller with Physicians Premier ER coached them on market sizing; Eric Anderson with ERAnderson & Associates coached them on positioning; Mechelle Salmon with the Centre of Healthcare, Innovation & Sciences coached them on revenue forecasting and funding requests; Chris Gain with Generational Capital, Inc. coached them on financial statements and forecasting minimum success criteria; Jason Rammel with Rammel Law Firm coached them on the legal aspects of business; Cory Martelli with Martelli Insurance Agency coached them on sales planning; Reagan Farish coached them on the art of sales; and Dan Mullins with Southland Communities coached them on storytelling.

For Comal ISD Career Prep Coordinator Leslie Weil, who teaches the Business INCubator class at SVHS, this year has been an experiment to see how well students and the community respond to the idea of developing entrepreneurs in the high school.

“This year has been about learning for all of us,” Weil says, “and now, we are recruiting students for next year’s class along with community partners, presenters, and of course starting the program at two more high schools.”

In fact, students from various disciplines and interests are encouraged to enroll in the course, because a successful business is only as successful as its employees. Weil says students learned how to use each other’s strengths as they worked on developing their businesses. Someone who is organized could make a great chief executive officer; someone good with math, may make a good financial officer; someone who is artistic, may be the perfect graphic designer; and so on.

“One of the neat aspects of this class,” Weil says, “is that no one really knew each other before the class began. We really tried hard to pull students from different interests, and it has really been fun to watch them come together. They have learned to appreciate each other, and they have learned their own strengths as well, building confidence along the way.”

How to get involved

  • Businesses interested in partnering with one of the Business Incubator classes in the fall, may contact Corbee Wunderlich, Comal ISD executive director for secondary education, at wunderlich@comalisd.org.
  • Anyone interested in investing in one of the SVHS INCubator companies and support Pitch Night, May 24, contact the Comal Education Foundation at foundation@comalisd.org.
 
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One photo included.
 
Overtime Sports.jpg
-The Overtime Sports company from left includes Community Mentor Pat Rodriguez, Molly Moczygemba, Charlotte Pierce, Taylor Bonser, Devin Bui and Devin Smith.