A student team from Kimberly High School impressed judges with their innovative clothing idea, winning the 2022 Wisconsin High School Business Model Competition held May 21 at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.
Students Kade Dunham, Ryan Halada and Riley Schmidt pitched Huva, a sweatshirt brand that offers a heated hood to keep wearers warm, comfortable and stylish all year. The cotton sweatshirt would be offered in adult and youth sizes.
“We learned from research that you lose most of your heat through your neck area so we came up with the idea because we have all had the problem of walking into school and wearing a hat and then our hair was ruined for the rest of the day,” said Riley, a sophomore who serves as marketing officer. “We came up the idea to add a heated hood because then you stay in style and you keep all your heat. You are adding heat to the hood so your heat does not leave.”
The Kimberly students learned a lot from the competition, particularly what it is like to make a presentation in front of people. They are focusing now on a double pocket for a battery pack that may double as a phone charger.
“When we found out we were the winners I was really shocked, but when they were telling us why we won it all made sense: that we were ahead of the game and that we were the first on the market … which is a big factor why we won,” Riley added.
A social network for disc golf players called Tossed and Found, pitched by Horicon High School student Alec Jarmain, placed second and will enable users to connect with one another to find lost discs using waterproof NFC tags provided to members at no cost. The Tossed and Found website will be integrated with a marketplace to buy/sell discs and contain a wiki for every disc made.
Third place went to Plour, pitched by Middleton High School students Aarush Jain and Michael Mounajjed, that takes in unwanted plants for free and repurposes them to be sold in a retail setting with subscription services and add-ons.
The three winning teams were judged best from the 12 teams that presented their business model pitches. For those who choose to attend UW Oshkosh, scholarship awards are $8,000 distributed evenly for the winning team, $5,000 for second and $2,000 for third. Students on winning teams that choose not to attend UWO are awarded $3,000, $1,500 and $500 cash, respectively.
The competition was hosted by UWO’s Alta Resources Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI). The competition also was supported by the UWO Center for Customized Research and Services, which offered extra help with planning and execution.
UWO Provost John Koker provided opening remarks and College of Business Dean Barb Rau was on hand to present awards. The event was coordinated by Dan Brosman, Nancy Jo Dietzen, Carrie Rule and Jeff Sachse and was open to all Wisconsin high school sophomores, juniors and seniors with teams from one to three members.
Judges were UWO alumni Kathy Griese ’97, director of economic development at Greater Oshkosh Economic Development Corporation; Joe Stephenson ’15, ’20 MPA, city of Kaukauna director of planning and community development; along with Sean Fitzgerald, city of Oshkosh economic development specialist; Jolene Heuchert, field marketing associate manager at TDS Fiber; Karen Schneider, owner and publisher of the Oshkosh Herald; and Steve Slocum, director of business development and strategy at Optima Associates.
Brosman, executive director of the CEI, said youth entrepreneurship competitions provide a safe space to experiment with career paths and business ideas while teaching valuable skills in creative thinking, planning, financial responsibility and the importance of relationships.