Students create businesses: Two county teams win Dare to Dream competition

Published 10:43 am Friday, March 6, 2020

For the past several years, the Glockner Family of Dealerships has been challenging area high school students to dream up a new product or unique business idea as part of its annual Dare to Dream competition.

This year, two teams from Lawrence County won in the seventh year of the competition. On Tuesday night, a three-person team from the STEM+M Early College High School in South Point won first place and received $7,500 and a three-person team from Ironton High School took third place and won $4,600. A total of 14 teams competed and won a combined $37,000.

The competition is a project of Tri-State Angel Investment Group, which makes investments in private companies to grow business in the area.

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Mike Thompson, executive in residence for Tech GROWTH Ohio, said the Dare to Dream contest is a way to reach out to the community’s future business leaders. This is the seventh year of the competition and, this year, there was a rise in the number of teams competing and the amount of prize money given out.

“We had over 60 teams sign up for the program at the beginning of the year,” he said. After in-school and semi-final competitions, 14 teams from Ohio and Kentucky were invited to the final round.

Teams gave a 4–8 minute business pitch and PowerPoint presentation for a panel of judges and then fielded questions from the judges about their idea. Thompson said the panel of five judges were very impressed with the presentations.

The STEM+M School’s winning idea was a “night care” baby-sitting service, called Children’s Paradise, that parents could access with a phone app.

One student’s parents run a day care and they found there was a demand for child care outside the normal working hours. So, the STEM+M team set up the app to schedule for night care and the team members checked out state regulations and got themselves certified to be caretakers.

“Then they started doing care from 5–10 p.m.,” Thompson said, adding they were even doing things like Valentine’s Day and girl’s night out specials. “They were slick.”

And the students weren’t just doing it as a presentation, their business had been going for about a month and they were booked up.

“That’s actually why they won,” Thompson said. “We coach the teams that it is nice to have an idea, but if you can actually be making money at it, then it shows you are an entrepreneur.”

Ironton High School’s idea got its start with a stinky dog problem. One of the students is from a family with eight kids and the dog enjoys being outside with them. But while the kids come in and hit the shower, the dog comes in and jumps on a bed, leaving it with the overly-fragrant smell of canine. Since it wasn’t always practical to wash the dog, the student looked into deodorizer, but found that most of the products contained harsh chemicals.

The solution was a doggy deodorizer product that is all natural.

“They already had the product made and on display and you could smell it,” Thompson said. “They had a very professional presentation.”

Thompson said that the prize money goes to the winning team members and can be used for whatever they wanted.

“It gives to the kids, no strings attached,” he said. “Some of them use it for education. Some actually put it back into start a business. Sometimes, they just use it for fun. Which they should, they put a lot of hard work into it.”