VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Kempsville High School students in the Entrepreneurship and Business Academy are busy preparing.
Next Wednesday, May 10, is the Incubator Program’s 5th Annual Pitch Night. Wednesday at 5 p.m. watch as six teams present their business pitches and plans to a successful panel of judges. With real seed money on the line to fund their businesses, the stakes are high for these sophomores.
Although only six teams will present on-stage, you can see more teams work on display at the event. There are 15 teams in total.
Incubator teacher Ashley Houchins and several students joined WAVY’s Sarah Goode at the WAVY Digital Desk for a Community Chat. They discussed the program, from the year-long business building to developing prototypes to creating elevator pitches. Watch the video in the player on this page.
Students Rodney Tolbert and Berkley Houston are two students from the four-person team called “Equipt”. They are hoping to win fundraising for their gym bag line. Rodney shared his thoughts on why their gym bag could go beyond the school walls.
“What we’ve made is something that I know I’d personally use a lot with sports, and there’s a lot of people that want to work out and want to improve themselves. So trying to help them out really is the number one goal,” Tolbert said
Team Equipt shared that from the start of their project, teamwork, communication, and research are critical. From finding companies to develop their prototype with materials to reduce odor and improve hygiene, they had to look outside the United States. Now, a prototype is ready for their presentation next week.
Even in the Community Chat, the team worked together to signal who was best suited to answer each question. It’s part of their plan for next week. Tolbert will take the elevator pitch, and Houston says she will speak to the company’s finances.
Houston says it was last year’s pitch night that sparked her interested to sign-up for this class.
One of the teams she saw last year was called “Beauty Perfection”. That is student Jada Watts team that received funding at pitch night last May. Watts is now on the other side of the incubator process.
Her team wanted to develop a beauty haircare and product line. Their first product called “The Perfect Parter” helps assist braiders. At first, they only developed the comb, but with encouragement from the mentors of the program, they created more products as a part of the line.
Their teacher, Ashley Houchins, says throughout the year, the teams work with mentors in the community. Every student team has a mentor that they work with all year long before they get to the pitch night stage.
Watts and her team were recognized by Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin for their accomplishments. He was also a judge at last year’s event.
Pitch Night is hosted by Bruce Thompson from Gold Key. This year one of the judges is the Secretary of Commerce and Trade for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Past judges also include, Kempsville High School alum and music producer Chad Hugo, Gilbert T. Bland the President & CEO of the Urban League of Hampton Roads, and more.
The tickets for Incubatoredu Pitch Night are free, but you must register. Click here to reserve your ticket. To find more information about the program, visit the Entrepreneurship and Business Academy at Kempsville High School’s Facebook Page.