Wabash County students set to compete at Innovate WithIN regional pitch competition

Wabash County, IN __ The entrepreneurial spirit is thriving in Wabash County schools, as local high school students dominate the line-up for the 2020 Innovate WithIN Regional Competition for Region 8, which covers the counties in northeast Indiana.

This annual competition is hosted throughout the state by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, the Indiana Department of Education, and Ball State University. Innovate WithIN is open to all Indiana high school students grades 9 through 12 who register as an individual or as a group of up to three students. Participants have the opportunity to win up to $100,000 in prizes as part of the competition.

Per the Innovate WithIN official website, Region 8’s competition will see ten businesses vying for a spot at the state competition. Seven of the ten businesses at the competition will be presented by Wabash County students.

The businesses that Wabash County students intend to pitch at regionals are:

  • Bizzy Bees, LLC – Landon Topliff & Alex Winer, Southwood High School
  • Retractable Show Stick – Riley Shaneberger, Manchester High School
  • iPlanDates – Sierra Stout & James Kelley, Southwood High School
  • Fix ‘em Up Phones – Gavin Whitaker, Manchester High School
  • WHS Energy – David Cash Carmichael, Grant Warmuth & Kedrick Judy, Wabash High School
  • Millie&Mabel – Lillian Herrmann, Manchester High School
  • Katelyn’s Vinyl Designs – Katelyn Hall & Micah Metzger, Heartland Career Center

“Wabash County partners work together to foster an entrepreneurial environment for our local students so that these young adults may learn to think differently and gain confidence in the business planning process,” Tenille Zartman, Vice President of Grow Wabash County said. “The ultimate goal is that some of these kids will find a passion in cultivating businesses, especially here in Wabash County, which in-turn would stimulate our local economy. We are very proud that these seven teams have advanced to Innovate WithIN’s regional competition.”

This is Wabash County’s second year of involvement in the Innovate WithIN competition, thanks in part to the concerted efforts of local educators and Grow Wabash County to develop and implement entrepreneurship curriculum that provides support for students looking to compete. The Indiana Economic Development Corporation provided Grow Wabash County with grant funding to support these entrepreneurial-minded programs.

The steering committee members that have helped support high school entrepreneurship endeavors include: Chelsea Boulrisse, Jason Callahan, Brian Evans, Keith Gillenwater, Kari Johnson, Tyler Karst, Mike Keaffaber, Shelly Leifer, Ryan Sincroft and Tenille Zartman.

As part of the Innovate WithIN competition, student entrepreneurs must come up with a new business idea, whether real or theoretical, and formulate an executive summary, develop a business plan and ultimately pitch their idea to a “Shark Tank style” panel of local professionals. Students will be evaluated on their pitches and will also receive feedback from the experienced panel of judges.

The first-place winner of the regional competition will receive a cash prize and will earn a spot in the Innovate WithIN State Competition on Wednesday, April 8. The second-place business will be entered into a “wild card” drawing where the runners-up from every region will compete for votes. The team with the highest number of votes will also receive a spot in the state competition.

The Innovate WithIN Regional Pitch Competition for Region 8 will take place on Wednesday, March 11 at Sweetwater Sound in Fort Wayne.

Download the full press release here.