Lakeland University welcomed 15 motivated high school students to create and pitch business plans as part of LU's second annual Academy for Aspiring Entrepreneurs.
The students, who are entering their junior or senior years this fall, were part of an intensive and fun four-day program that taught them how to build a successful business plan, including marketing, operations and a financial plan for a business product of their choosing.
The week culminated with four teams of students pitching their ideas to three potential investors during a Muskie Tank session. Ideas included:
- A relaxation center called Oasis.
- A device called FindCam that will help consumers locate lost items that includes GPS and a camera.
- A bracelet made solely from recovered plastic in the Great Lakes called Great Lakes Bracelet.
- ID Innovative Design, which created a backpack that also has GPS, is fireproof, waterproof and bulletproof.
Students were from St. Thomas More, Brookfield Academy, Carmen High School of Science and Technology and Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Milwaukee, Cedar Grove-Belgium, Sheboygan Christian and Sheboygan South.
Participation in the academy was free, and each student received a $500 scholarship that can be used when they enroll in college and $750 if they decide to attend Lakeland. Funding was provided by a grant from the Bradley Foundation to Lakeland's Office for the Advancement of Free Enterprise Education, which designed the event.
Shaping the program and leading most of the sessions was Britanni Meinnert, an instructor of hospitality management at Lakeland. Meinnert has six years of experience teaching at both the technical school and college level, along with 14 years in the hospitality industry as a department leader.
"Our goals are to teach the students the foundations of business, assist them with articulating a business plan around the idea of a minimal viable product that is innovative, expose them to area company partners and LU alumni and engage them with LU's campus for an extended period beyond just a campus tour," Meinnert said.
"Over the course of four days, these students accomplished what our students do in 15 weeks. That just speaks to how impressive this group of young ladies and gentlemen are. I would be delighted to welcome all of them to our campus in the next two years."
The student teams pitched their ideas during the Muskie Tank session to a group that included Lakeland Executive Vice President Beth Borgen; Paula Inda, Curt Joa's global marketing and sales manager and a member of the Lakeland Schilcutt School of Business & Entrepreneurship Board of Advocates; and Kym Leibham, Lakeland's manager of corporate relations and special events.
Students were invited to participate by their high school teachers or guidance counselors, and submitted a short essay to Lakeland explaining why they wanted to be involved.
Other highlights of the academy included:
- A visit to Acuity where the tour was led by Lakeland alumna Savannah Stenlund, an Acuity employee.
- A visit to Whistling Straits to learn about the 2020 Ryder Cup led by Lakeland graduates Tess Anschutz and Austin Hansen, both PGA of America employees who are on the Ryder Cup planning team.
- A session with a team from The Commons to learn about ideation to get their ideas flowing for their business plans.
- Sessions on public speaking to help students shape their business pitches and networking and a variety of professional skills like proper handshakes and remembering people's names.
- Each student received a copy of "The Lens of Leadership: Being the Leaders That Others Want to Follow" by Cory Bouck, who joined the group for a book Q&A from his work assignment in China for Johnsonville.
Lakeland will hold the academy again next summer.