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Business students persevere from home during pandemic

The Incubator Entrepreneurship class held its fourth annual Pitch Night on Wednesday, May 19. However, instead of standing in front of an auditorium full of family and community members at the Northbrook Public Library, four teams held the “Shark Tank” style competition virtually this year. 

All four teams did a standout job, but only one team could win the education scholarship awarded by the Advisory Board. This year’s winner was Cordio Accessories, a super-strong adjustable hair scrunchie, developed and manufactured by seniors Brooke Nickelson, Elana Mages and Rebecca Shakhnis.

“GBN was well-positioned for business teams to work remotely,” instructor Mindy Ingersoll said. “The students coordinated tasks, stayed in constant communication, and effectively carried out their goals. They showed incredible grit and perseverance as they worked on their projects from home. It was a real-life business lesson offered by the unfortunate circumstances of the pandemic,” Ingersoll said.

The Incubator Entrepreneurship class offers students the opportunity to learn how to start a business – beginning with team building and ideation; then marketing, finance and web design; and finally completing the process by giving a “Shark Tank” style sales pitch and explaining the business models. Other business ideas generated by the class this year included an app to create packing lists, a refillable ink station for dry erase markers, and a sports bag to contain smelly clothes that can be thrown into the washing machine upon arriving home.

Mages said it was exciting for her team to win Pitch Night and see their hard work pay off.

“The end of the school year was drastically different for us,” Mages said. “Zoom calls with our teacher and mentors really helped us succeed. I was lucky to have a group that I got along with very well.”

One of the most unique aspects of this class is the reliance on more than 30 local professional volunteers. Each team is assigned a mentor, a professional to work with the team one-on-one who assists them on developing their business models throughout the entire school year. These coaches come in throughout the year to teach a specific unit on a deeper level and bring real circumstances to the classroom. 

For more information on this dynamic class, check out the GBN Startup Facebook page or follow them on Instagram at @GBNStartup
Business students persevere from home during pandemic