Incubator teaches how to grow a business

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Incubator teaches how to grow a business

Nick Dunn, Guest Reporter

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A small group of students gather around the table and rapidly share their ideas. They are calm, after all, they will have to come to a compromise in the end. They write down as many ideas as they can muster, organized in neat rows and columns. At the corner of the table, a mentor sits quietly, he looks over the sheet of paper and gives small bits of input here and there.

Incubator is a class where students create a business they run throughout high school. They draw up business ideas based on a public need, brainstorm possible products to fit that need and implement them into a final product, with the help of a mentor entrepreneur.  

Incubator is a lot like ‘Shark Tank.’ You start your own business in high school with the help of a mentor entrepreneur that you meet with once a week with no financial risk,” Incubator teacher Dana Jones said. “Students who thrive in this class have a drive to be their own boss, and the ability to overcome obstacles and want to gain experience, self-motivation.”

Jones said one of the coolest things about the class is the amount of interaction the students get with a real entrepreneur. Each group receives help from a mentor in a field of work close to their topic. The mentor guides the students along the path to creating a successful business.

“The level of help we get is incredible,” Jones said “the connections that the students make with real entrepreneurs after a year of working with them. Later in life, they will have internship opportunities and job opportunities.”

Senior Clarence Lilley, and Junior Meghana Karimisetty, are both in the same incubator group. They are working on a product they call the “Sound Cup.” It is an adhesive that goes on your phone and directs sounds from the speaker towards you.

“Definitely take Incubator because the money you gain from your business is 100 percent yours,” Lilley said. “The school district has no control over the money.”

Despite a large amount of responsibility that comes with running a business, Incubator offers a risk-free environment with a small amount of work outside of school. Students are tasked with meeting with a mentor every week and seeking out and talking to potential customers. Students also have a unique opportunity, as Incubator isn’t offered at every school. In fact, there are only four schools in central Texas that offer the course and only 90 nationwide.

“Students should already be thinking about problems they can solve in their daily lives,”  Jones said. “Students can also expect to collaborate and apply what you learn in class to your business.”

Incubator as a class opens doors that are usually closed to high school students. In fact, an  Incubator student made an appearance on Shark Tank to try to receive an investment to fund his product the “SnapClip” a device to easily hold weights on the bar, with the shape of a slap bracelet. This student was not from our school but with all of these new possibilities opening up to students, it won’t be long now.

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