Business INCubator students present product ideas to investors at annual ‘pitch night’


Nathan Yuan

Each year, students enrolled in the Business INCubator class at Naperville Central spend the year developing a product idea and learning to market a business. In the spring, the students have the opportunity to present this product idea to a panel of investors for the chance to take thier company to the next level.

Nathan Yuan, News Editor

Student teams from Naperville Central and Naperville North pitched ideas at the annual Business INCubator Pitch Night on May 11. The winning team, Scent Sacks, an athletic equipment deodorizer, received $3000 in funding from the Naperville Education Foundation.

“This event [guides] student teams through the learning process, along with the foundational business topics such as marketing and finance,” Superintendent Dan Bridges said in a speech at the event. “Students in the business program live up to our mission of being self directed learners, collaborative workers, complex thinkers, quality producers, and community contributors.”

Four teams, two from each high school, were chosen to pitch by a panel of judges previous to pitch night. A fifth wild card team was decided by a popularity vote. Out of the top five pitches, a judging panel chose the top three.

“The judge is our advisory council. It’s local business professionals and entrepreneurs that are selected by people at the district office,” Central business teacher Brad Neubauer said.

Second place team Gard-In Home, a company that provides design, installation and maintenance, received $2000 and third place team TeenForce, an online marketing service for small businesses, received $1000.

“They [will] use that money next year in the business accelerator class to further their business,” Neubauer said. 

The process teaches students leadership and teamwork skills, North business teacher Gene Nolan said.

“It starts with the beginning of the year we go through it’s called ideation, where the kids are looking for what problems need to be solved,” Nolan said. “[They look for] a gap in the market somewhere and then they try to build a business that solves that gap in the market, that people are willing to pay.”

The pitches were the result of a year of work, Neubauer said.

“[Students] spend the school year vetting out that solution and testing it out in the market, creating marketing materials, doing a number of different things to ultimately try to get them ready for tonight,” Neubauer said. “[It’s] to pitch that business opportunity to the advisory council to try to get that investment.”

Over 150 student participants  were present at pitch night.