CINCINNATI — Many people dream of starting their own business. Some even hope to make it to the ultimate entrepreneurship step and get on the show "Shark Tank." For some high school students, they are getting about as close as you can to both of those things.
What You Need To Know
- Lakota Schools is one of just two school districts to offer a "Shark Tank" class to students
- Students are grouped in teams and are tasked to solve a problem with a product or service
- Each group will be mentored by a local business professional
- At the end of the school year, the groups will present to investors in hopes of getting funded to make the idea a reality
For students at the Lakota high schools in southwest Ohio, being an entrepreneur is an encouraged path post graduation.
“Entrepreneurship was definitely not something you consider, you know, as you’re growing up," Riley Higgins, a junior at Lakota East High School said. "It’s always college or going into the military. So, that was interesting to see that they incorporated that. So, I think it’ll be really interesting to see how many students choose that path.”
And teachers are making it fun, by teaching a Shark Tank-style class that encourages students to work in groups and come up with business ideas that would create a solution to an everyday problem.
“No matter what career path they choose, the skills that we learn in class will go with them," said Kevin Keen, the teacher of the class. "So, I love that. And I love the fact that the students are working all year with a team and the team is working on something bigger than themselves.”
Lakota Local Schools is just the second school district in the state to make Shark Tank a class for its students. The class, called InCubator EDU at Lakota, also brings in local business professionals to mentor the students through the process.
“I’m kind of looking at the second part of my life and what I want to do to help," said Steve Nguyen, a mentor in the program. "And so, when I was approached about this, I jumped at it because I love to coach and I love to help out with the kids.”
“We’re all just students, you know?" Higgins said. "A lot of us are juniors, especially in my group, and we don’t have a lot of experience with this world and these people have been working in their fields for so long. Even looking through our options of mentors, who we wanted to pair with, they’re all so achieved and they’ve had so many good things and great experiences in life. I think we’ll learn so much from them and be able to apply that.”
Right now, students are in the ideation process of their business and will soon be paired with mentors. With ideas such as an app for women to get home safer, to technology to prevent children from drowning, the students are taking the competition seriously and hope this can propel them to the next step.
“You see a lot of small businesses and you see a lot of things and you’re like ‘wow, I wish I could do that,’" Rehab Jarabah, a junior at Lakota East, said. "And then, reading stories about how people went from rags to riches from their small business because they had this one small idea and turned it into an empire.”
Students at the end of the year will then pitch their ideas to investors. Teachers hope several of the ideas will be invested in and then students can take what they learned to the next steps of creating their business.
“Real world learning is talked about a lot," Keen said. "As teachers, we try to provide it in all of our classes. But to see something become really tangible and students could walk away from our building to continue to work on it, that would just be a tremendous, wonderful thing.”