Second year Buffalo High School Caydence Engling said when she was growing up she thought she wanted to be a doctor because she loves helping people.
“Since taking business classes, I’ve come to the conclusion that I want to be able to own my own business and do my own thing,” said Engling.
This business class was with her teacher Kami Kennedy. Kennedy, herself a business owner, also advises the Future Business Leaders of America chapter in Buffalo.
“My whole goal is for them to be able to reach businesses and keep growing and developing, but I think they will be about 15 years from my start. I think this only gives them this opportunity because I really believe that entrepreneurship is experience, “said Kennedy.
When the Sheridan Start-Up Challenge began in 2017, it was child’s play that Kennedy wanted to use the experience for her class.
Kennedy had her students begin applying for the practice entrepreneur competition.
“We do this in class every day. We talk about ideas and write things down a lot, and problem solving is really what we always focus on. So let’s go ahead and share some of our solutions out there,” she said.
The challenge is that entrepreneurs compete for funding and business support. It is being launched in Sheridan by Impact 307, one of three University of Wyoming incubators across the state. The aim is to promote economic diversification.
Scot Rendall, director of Impact 307, said that while Buffalo students applied each year, none of the judges were selected as a semi-finalist.
“But they were pretty intrigued by some of the ideas the students had that year. And so the idea came up in the Sheridan Start-Up Challenge evaluation process that maybe we keep the spirit of entrepreneurship down there, maybe we create theirs own challenge for student startups, “he said.
After the 2020 Sheridan Contest ended, Rendall and his team worked with Kennedy to put together the seed funding, which was around $ 5,000, half of which was donated by local Buffalo businesses. Rendall worked with the students to prepare their business plans. He gave them criticism and helped them sharpen their presentations
“We’ve improved their value proposition for what their product or service is supposed to do. We’ve talked about their market, we’ve talked about a financial model, you know how do they expect to make money from their idea,” he said. “Then it was pitch day before the jury, and the judges had a number of additional questions for them.”
Since the first pitch event, Rendall has continued to work with the four finalists on their business plans and there will be another chance for the students to raise funds to turn their ideas into action.
Sophomore Caydence Engling is one of the finalists and her business idea is to revise daily planners under the name Purpose Planners.
“I found a lot of planners to be super generic, or they are over the top and kind of confusing,” she said. “So I wanted to create and design something that was not only simple, but also had a touch of creativity.”
Part of Engling’s plan is to show off her planner draft to Buffalo High School. Through this process, she learned a lot about the effort it takes to be a business owner.
“It feels really good. I didn’t think I’d become a business owner. I’m only 15 and in my sophomore year. And so it’s kind of weird because not a lot of kids are like that,” she said. “It’s like a degree of maturity, it’s just cool to see how I grow and develop.”
Rendall said that even if these students don’t run these businesses long term, there are lifelong tuition.
“I think no matter what you do in the future, these are valuable life skills that will help you understand what it takes to run a business, what it takes to make a profit, what it takes to keep a customer happy ask, “said he said.
Rendall said he and Kennedy learned some lessons from that initial experience in creating the competition for students, such as the fact that the presentations weren’t given during graduation week.
Working with students was a challenge in its own right, as all classwork and activities competed for their attention, he said.
“If we can solve the problems, to fix the bugs with this process here, why shouldn’t we start it in Sheridan High School? Why shouldn’t we start it in Natrona.” [County] High school where we still have an incubator? “He said.” That will be the idea. And if I can perfect the model of getting students involved and making really good plans, I think it will be wonderful for the state to be able to develop these young entrepreneurs. “
Rendall said they will close this contest soon and make plans for the next one.