Lovers of the hit TV show “Shark Tank” might be interested in a local version of it being presented Wednesday night at Truman Learning Center Auditorium on 209 W. College St. in Farmington. Farmington High School’s entrepreneurial honors class for seniors, INCubatorEDU, is putting together its students’ presentations for a panel of judges, and the community is invited to watch the students’ business pitches, too.
Speaking at Thursday’s Farmington Regional Chamber’s Business and Community Luncheon, Farmington High School’s INCubatorEDU coordinator Chrissy Pierce provided chamber members with a quick overview of the program. Afterward, she introduced the four teams of students who are preparing for “Final Pitch Night,” being held Wednesday in the Truman Learning Center Auditorium.
“I see quite a few people here that maybe are not familiar with what INCubatorEDU is and how fortunate the Farmington High School and the school district is to have this,” she said. “I’ve said this many times, but I’m so proud. Farmington High School is the first school in the state of Missouri to have the program.
“This is our second year and we’re still the only school in the state. This group of students is only the second year of students in Missouri that have been able to go through this program, so they’re very fortunate.”
Pierce told the crowd she is “highly selective” of the students she will allow to participate in the program.
“There’s 14 in the class,” she said. “There are 12 with me right now, but they are the best kids, top-notch. I just can’t say enough good things about them. Last year, I didn’t even know if I could get a better class than what I had, but they have superseded those expectations. Years ago, I taught just a basic entrepreneurship class, but this is taking it to the next level.
“They have four actual operating businesses. They’re also chamber members as well, each one of their businesses. [Chamber Executive Director] Candy Hente came in and she explained to the students everything that the chamber does, and then she offered them memberships. That day, they signed up. So, there’s four new businesses that are with the chamber as well.”
Pierce explained that the format of INCubatorEDU’s “Pitch Night” is like the popular TV show Shark Tank.
“And that final pitch is going to be next Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.,” she said. “I invite you all to please come. It’s a very, very entertaining evening to watch the students pitch to this board of directors. So, after [the students] ‘pitch,’ the board of directors will go back and forth with them and ask them really hard questions. And that’s the whole point of it. Sometimes we know the answers, sometimes we don’t. They’ve already pitched once to the board of directors to get their seed money. They each got $500 to get their business up and running, and now they’re going to compete for a $2,000 cash prize to go on with their businesses.”
According to Pierce, each of the students’ businesses has already made money.
“That is amazing,” she said. “Last year, one of the groups only made a very small amount. That was one of the only groups since INCubator has started that was making money before the final pitch. But we have one team, for example, that has made probably well over $1,000 by now, so I’m very, very proud. And like I said, these are real operating businesses. They have business cards, you can contact them.
“They’ve been out in the community a lot more than what we did last year, and I think that that’s very imperative that we get out in the community and we talk about our businesses and put a face with these things. If you want to hear more about their businesses, like I said, please come to Truman and support these students. Listen to the hard questions that the board is going to ask them and then see who actually wins and goes on with their business.”
Kevin R. Jenkins is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-783-9667 or email@example.com