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Lakeview entrepreneurs learn to make pitches

Staff photo / Raymond L. Smith Dakota Howard, 17, is one of 20 Lakeview students who created 30- to 90-second videos outlining a business product she created, Toe Saver, and is marketing for the 2020 Young Entrepreneur Teen Pitch Challenge of Northeast Ohio.

CORTLAND — For 17-year-old Dakota Howard, stubbing her toes on furniture corners has been one of the things that always bugs her.

So when Lakeview entrepreneur teacher Anne Marie Alexander asked students in her entrepreneurship class what kind of businesses they would like to create and sell as part of the school’s entry to the Young Entrepreneur Teen Pitch Challenge of Northeast Ohio, finding a way to prevent that from happening was one of the first things that came across her mind.

“Our teacher said focus on something that bugged us or what we were passionate about,” Howard said. “She said we could make the presentations funny or make it relatable to the lives of people. We have to be able to draw them in so they will buy the product.”

Howard came up with Toe Saver.

She worked with her mother to make the basic design and with her father to do the engineering to make sure it would work.

In her video, Howard had a young girl stubbing her toe against the side of a couch and then falling on the floor writhing in pain.

It is at that point that the narrator describes the product.

This is the second year that Lakeview has participated in the Young Entrepreneur Teen Pitch Challenge. Last year, one of the Lakeview students landed in the top 20 of several hundred students from across northeast Ohio who participated in the challenge.

Students are required to come up with their own ideas for projects, a marketing plan, and, in 30 to 90 seconds, create digital presentations to convince people to buy the products.

Teen Pitch Challenge is a set of activities that help kids learn creativity, problem solving, critical thinking and presentation skills. Pitch Challenge teaches essential workforce readiness skills and helps kids develop a mindset for 21st century careers whether or not they become an entrepreneur.

Student participants can range from kindergarten through fourth grade, fifth through eight grades, and high school.

Ilene Frankel, regional director of the Young Entreprenuer Institute, said the pitch challenge is a five-year program of the institute.

Frankel said the institute has been helping young people learn the skills needed to operate businesses.

“Although not all of our participants will operate their own businesses, we believe we are teaching them the skills they will need not only in business, but also in life,” she said.

The institute was created in 2005 by Greg Malkin. Leaders of the instittute believe that every child should understand and experience entrepreneurship, including learning subjects like math and writing more relevant to students.

About 20 Lakeview students are participating in the challenge this year.

Shelby Hunter, 18, created a product is a calming product to help people reduce stress when they are anxious.

“It will have slots, where essential oils can be placed,” Hunter, a senior, said. “My understanding is if something is placed strategically at the body’s pressure points, it has calming effects.”

Hunter said something like calming bands could help her when she has to speak in front of people.

“My little sister has a anxieties, so a product like this also could help her,” Hunter said.

Hunter, who described herself as very shy, said the entrepreneurship class has helped her overcome an inability to talk in front of others without having a sense of dread.

“This has helped me get out of my comfort zone,” Hunter said.

Kaitlyn DeProfio, 16, a junior, created a waterproof projector that can be used outside during rainfall.

Cameron Bunch, 17, a senior, did not give a presentation about a product, but about a service. He designed a weight-loss boot camp for people preparing to go into the military.

“It would be a military-style boot camp designed to help people lose weight,” Bunch said.

Alexander said the students’ video presentations will be sent to Northeast Ohio Teen Pitch Challenge over the holiday break. However, judging will not take place until February.

Entries to the Challenge may be submitted through Feb. 20.

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