This fall, Huntley High School will launch a business incubator program through INCubatoredu to provide students the opportunity to create and develop their own product or service.
Entrepreneurs and business experts from the community will serve as volunteer coaches and mentors guiding student teams through lean processes and foundational business topics, such as marketing and finance.
Existing study hall rooms at the high school will be renovated to create a new, state-of-the-art learning space with conference rooms, collaboration and presentation areas, and new technology. Donations are being sought from local businesses to help with renovation costs.
"We are wanting to offer a more authentic business experience to students so they can really see what this industry is about," said Nick Wedoff, department chairman of career and technology education. "This kind of gives you a great overview of every facet of business -- marketing, accounting, entrepreneurship, web marketing, product design, investment and business setup. It's not a traditional class. We will still offer those ... but this lets kids actually get their hands on and potentially experience in a different manner."
Community support from local business leaders is key to launching the inaugural class. Officials are seeking volunteers to serve on an advisory board that meets twice yearly with students, as well as coaches and mentors who help them develop business ideas in the classroom.
Coaches will be required to teach a class developed by INCubatoredu one to three days throughout the school year, while community mentors will meet with students weekly.
"We just sent out a mailer to lots of local businesses in our community," Wedoff said.
Six teams per each class of 24 students will develop business proposals for viable products, test their ideas with consumer research groups, then market and present them to the advisory board for help with funding. At the end of the year, students will pitch their business products/ideas in a "Shark Tank"-esque contest to gain seed money.
These businesses will be run the following school year by students as they learn to market and sell their products, secure copyright, product patents and create LLCs where needed, Wedoff said.
The program is open to juniors and seniors who previously have taken at least one business or consumer education course.
To volunteer, donate or for more information about the program, visit district158.org/hhs/incubatoredu/ or contact Wedoff at firstname.lastname@example.org or (847) 659-6766.