When a person is passionate about something, it shows, and that was definitely the case with Mrs. Kluver’s Entrepreneurship students. Excitement was brimming as students prepared to give a three-minute elevator pitch about their business idea to a panel of community leaders serving as judges.
Over the course of the semester, students spent time researching their entrepreneurial ideas and developing them into actual businesses. Decorating the walls in Mrs. Kluver’s classroom are the business canvas models that students used to explore the various aspects of the business, including value proposition, customer segments, key partners, resources, how to make money and costs. Students posted sticky notes on their business canvas in the different areas to show beginning knowledge and information learned throughout the semester.
To culminate the process, Doug Benjamin, President of Northwest Bank, and Spencer Chamber of Commerce Director, Bill Campbell, volunteered to listen to the students pitch their business ideas. Ranging from sleep-aid music to sporting goods, and pet boarding to locally grown produce, students presented their three-minute elevator pitch, followed by questions and evaluation from Benjamin and Campbell.
As students entered the classroom, it was apparent that nerves were high for Corbin Getting. Corbin shared that the idea for his business started with a friend. “I have a friend who has difficulty sleeping, so I made music that helps her sleep, and she said it works.” Throughout the semester, Corbin has developed Desibeats, music software to help people with sleep disabilities.
Once everyone was settled, Brandi Botcher got the pitches started by sharing her business, Four Seasons Farmers Market, a year-round market that sells local produce grown in a greenhouse, farm fresh eggs and local honey. “Everyone likes to eat healthy, so why not have it be fresh,” said Botcher, noting that often times available produce is bruised and shriveled. After her pitch, Campbell asked if she owns a greenhouse, and she replied with a chuckle, “Not yet, but I will.” When Benjamin asked why she wanted to pursue this business, Botcher said she sees a need because lots of people like to go to farmers markets, but in Spencer they can only go between June and October due to the growing season.
Also showing an interest in fresh produce, Kennedy Runkle pitched her business, E-Gardens. “With my revolutionary app, I will help people get to know their food just like their neighbor. Have you ever sat there, and looked at your food, and wondered if your fruits and vegetables are actually fresh? What was the journey that they made from the ground to your plate?” After planting those seeds of thought, Kennedy went on to explain that with her app, growers will make profiles to help sell their product and get connected with the community. She ended by asking the panel to look over her plan and ask themselves if they believe her idea is important, because she believes it is! When the panelists asked questions, Kennedy clarified that her company is all internet based. “I am just taking people like Brandi who are growing and anybody who is willing to grow for themselves and for the community.” Additionally she is targeting middle age, middle class mothers whom she feels are largely responsible for feeding their families.
Using an evaluation tool, students were scored on various aspects relating to content and delivery. Following the pitches, and after conferring with each other, Benjamin and Campbell selected a winner. Pet Connection, a pet boarding and grooming facility developed by Morgan Roberts was awarded the top pitch. Campbell and Benjamin felt that her idea was probably one of the easiest ways to get into a business and succeed. They also felt that she had the best laid out and detailed plans. Morgan shared that 70 percent of households in the United States own at least one pet, and that a facility that has both boarding and grooming is needed in Spencer because there are only a few options currently. What would set her facility apart from the others would be her idea of specific webcams for each pet. When pet owners are away, Morgan would supply them with a code for an online website or mobile app, and customers could log in and watch their pet anytime while they are away. When asked if she has consulted with any of the local businesses already doing this type of business for advice, Morgan shared that she had attended a Career Experience at K9 Designs, where she learned a lot of things about the business.
According to Kluver, students learned a tremendous amount throughout the semester, and some even learned that they no longer want to pursue the pathway of entrepreneurship. That was not the case for Brandi who will be enrolled in the Entrepreneurship Extended Career Experience (ECE) next semester. When asking Brandi about the ECE, she replied that she is excited, but isn’t certain if she will pursue her year-round farmers market. “I have a few business ideas, but I don’t know if the other ideas will work in this community. I have to do some research first to make that determination, and I will do that during the ECE. Brian Dalziel from Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation will help us with that and get us in contact with people who can help us start whatever we are interested in.”