Throughout the semester, INCubatoredu students have learned the importance of a business model and have worked with local professionals to help guide them through the process of creating a product or service.
The two groups presented their final pitches in a “Shark Tank” style presentation. Three local business professionals acted as the panel of judges as each group walked them through their product presentation.
Co-owner of Evie Mae’s BBQ Mallory Robbins, Executive Director of the Lubbock Angel Network Ryan Reber, and Program Director at the Texas Tech Innovation Hub Taysha Williams critiqued students on their presentations, product logistics, and feasibility.
Students Erin Cooley and Adam Aboohamidi presented their idea, “Hung Up,” an app that would essentially help the user choose an outfit for the day.
During the pitch Cooley and Aboohamidi walked the judges through the app, spoke about competitors, and explained their research.
Cooley said that creating an app was much more difficult than expected.
“Whenever we were writing the instructions for the app, it was a lot of work to be very specific about what buttons would lead to where and what those buttons would look like,” Cooley said. “You don’t realize how many instructions go into one button click.”
Cooley and Aboohamidi worked with students in Nicholas Copeland’s Computer Science classes to help build and code their app.
Aboohamidi said that he is proud of where the app has come from creation to an actual app people can download.
“I think it is cool how far we have come and to see the behind the scenes part of building an app,” Aboohamidi said. “I definitely feel like these are skills that I will use in the future and that will help me after high school.”
The winning pitch was for a product called Puzzle Carpet, created by Luis Coronado, Zander Smith, and Lilah DeGrand.
During the presentation, the group showed judges a video of how to install Puzzle Carpet. They spoke about wanting to start small in order to eventually grow into a larger business that offers more products.
The groups idea behind their product was to appeal to younger families with small children, and also to pet owners. Puzzle Carpet would be installed by the consumer as a DIY type project but if an individual piece was stained by kids or pets, it would easily be removed and a new “puzzle piece” would fit back into its place.
Coronado said that in the beginning it was a lot of trial and error.
“When we first started the pieces had wavy edges, but we felt that the seams were too visible,” Coronado said. “After a few different ideas didn’t work, we finally ended up cutting the pieces into puzzle piece shapes. This made the seams almost completely disappear.”
DeGrand said that the INCubatoredu class had pushed her and her peers to work very hard.
“From the beginning of the year until now, it has just been ‘work, work, work,'” DeGrand said. “I think that is what will be the most beneficial for us in the long run. We are learning to work hard at something, pivot when necessary, change things up, and move on.”
INCubatoredu teacher Scott Smith said that Puzzle Carpet will compete with their product pitch at the National Summit in June.
“We wanted to get some feedback from real investors,” Smith said. “The only feedback these students have had so far has been mine or their business mentors.”
Smith said that the Shark Tank style pitches with real business professionals is the way he wants the class to be modeled all year long.
“It is absolutely amazing,” Smith said. “The best part of this class is watching my students come up with an idea and follow it through all the way to the end – that is why I am so proud of them. None of these kids have a business background, or necessarily want to follow a business career path after high school, but I consider them all young entrepreneurs and I was amazed by them.”