Upper Arlington News

Students pitch business ideas to chamber panel

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Taking part in a moment of recognition following an entrepreneur contest at Upper Arlington High School are (from left) panelists Doug Ryan and Amy Kuhlman; students Scott Strayton, David Newhouse, Trent Porterfield and Tyler Armstrong; and panelist D. Wesley Newhouse.

Student entrepreneurs presented innovative business plans to a "panel of investors" earlier this month, learning marketing and savvy business strategies from members of the Upper Arlington Chamber of Commerce.

Upper Arlington High School business teacher Stephen Lewis Sr. said three teams of students from his Entrepreneurship and Management class competed in an entrepreneur contest.

"Each team developed a business plan appropriate for their business," he said. "The teams were The Cave, a recreational venture providing physical activity in a gaming environment; Bake, Bake, Bakery & Cafe, a pastry retail food establishment; and H & S Accessories, an online retail apparel store."

Lewis said the students presented their plans to Upper Arlington business leaders, who judged the plans for originality, feasibility and persuasiveness.

On Jan. 16, the business leaders conducted a round-table discussion with the students, providing insights on starting a business.

"It was an exciting moment for the students, as it culminated their efforts for the semester," Lewis said. "It was also an exciting moment for the community as business leaders had the opportunity to support and mentor students in such a way as to bring real world experiences to the classroom environment."

The winning student team was H & S Accessories. Its team members included seniors David Newhouse and Scott Strayton, and juniors Tyler Armstrong and Trent Porterfield.

Newhouse said the business concept for H & S Accessories centered on providing fashionable men's clothing for ages 18-35, through an online shopping experience.

"We decided there would be a niche market for online clothing with an emphasis on quick delivery and many different size options," he said. "We created a business plan that included financial statements, marketing ideas, location selection, distribution channels, target market and demographics. It was a very cohesive project that took a large amount of time to put together."

He said his group learned how to put together a business plan and how to work together to accomplish a larger business goal.

"I learned that one member cannot take on the responsibilities of a product of this magnitude and that there needs to be an underlying trust and understanding between members on the focus of the plan and the quality of the objectives," he said.

Newhouse said he is interested in pursuing a business-related major after high school and pursuing a chemistry-related business.

Lewis said the class teaches principles that may be applied in students' everyday lives as young adults. He said the round-table discussions provided the students with authentic business experience.

"When a teacher has the opportunity to enhance the learning objectives of a lesson through the use of outside professional resources, that is a blessing," he said.

Lewis said he was impressed by the diversity of businesses the students created.

"The teams put much thought into their projects and were very creative in their product mix," he said.

Partnering with the UA chamber was a "win-win" for students and the community, he said.

"Students gained a broader insight into the global dimensions of business while businesses gained increased community awareness and the school received positive media attention," he said. "The round-table discussion was an excellent opportunity for the students to hear true testimonials from professionals who had to fail before they succeeded.

"I think this type of reality check helps students to see the challenges and rewards of business ownership for what they really are and not just what is presented in a classroom lecture," he said.