ASHLAND, Ky. — Three teams of teen innovators from Russell High School won cash for their business ideas at the eighth annual Glockner Dare to Dream pitch contest.
Locked and Loaded Game Birds, a team consisting of Jasmine Webb, Autumn Jeffrey and Gracie Bates. The team won first place and $6,000 cash, plus $200 for an idea that reduced the carbon footprint and another $250 for being a viable business idea that is practical, has low startup cost and is ready to go.
Under the business model, their company will rent guns, provide ammo, bird dogs, group photos and clean the birds for the ultimate “Locked and Loaded” hunting experience. Jeffrey operates guided pheasant hunts; her family hunts pheasants as a hobby, said Melissa Wilburn, business and marketing teacher at Russell.
Batter’s Eye, a team consisting of Eric Williams, Daniel Blanton and Ben Hammond. The team won third place and $4,000, plus $250 for being one of the most viable business ideas.
The T-shirt business has been in operation by Williams since August, designing baseball logos and apparel. Wilburn said he has connected with some professional baseball players who have worn his gear on the field. He also is endorsed by a baseball podcast with 16,000 followers and other influencers.
Boujee Backyard BBQ, a team consisting of Brody Stump, Garrett Wilburn and Elijah Abdon. The team won fourth place and $3,000 cash for their business plan, as well as $400 for being the best idea for reducing the carbon footprint and an additional $250 for being one of the most viable business ideas.
Wilburn said her son, Garrett, made a fire pit and wanted to add a grill grate, but many were too expensive. That inspired his team to design and weld grill grates for stone firepits. They also made a smoker and a dry rub to use for smoking meat.
“There are not just ideas. They’ve done it,” Wilburn said, noting the program operates much like the television show “Shark Tank,” including making a five-minute pitch to a group of investors and receiving real money — and advice — from the experts.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, students recorded presentations instead of doing them live. When investors viewed the presentations, students joined them live and were able to have the question-and-answer sessions that had been so helpful to past teams.
Previous competitions have drawn as many as 60 teams; the pandemic knocked that number down to 13.
The Glockner Dare to Dream Pitch Competition’s awards totaled $36,000 this year. It’s a creation of the Tri-State Angel Investors Group, founded by Mick Fosson in 2014.
TSAIG works with local investors and partner angel groups to advance entrepreneurs in their respective industries.
“All the kids on all 13 teams got some money to try to encourage them to learn about how to start a business,” Fosson said. “We hope we can get them going to get them to stick around here and not have all the brains leave the region.”
Wilburn agreed, saying it’s been fascinating to watch team members talk to business leaders in the region and learn about business in a hands-on way.
“We’re trying to reward them and encourage them that this is doable,” she said. “With job closings and layoffs, the only way we’re going to make it around here is to develop your own business.”