This year, Lake Forest High School will end its third successful year with the innovative Business Incubator program. Created through a partnership between Lake Forest High School and the Lake Forest High School Foundation, the honors-level Business Incubator course was offered for the first time during the 2014-15 school year. Due to its overwhelming popularity and success, the single course offering was expanded to three sections for the 2015-16 school year and four sections for 2016-17. Jen Gattari, a coach for the incubator program, stated that the course was unlike any other. She also talked about how the course has been able to provide students with hands-on learning approaches that will help them excel in future endeavors:
“The course provides real world experience. The LFHS Business Incubator students have been exposed to many concepts that I did not learn until I got my MBA. I believe that the knowledge gained in the LFHS Business Incubator will give them a competitive advantage in college and in their first jobs.” – Jenny Gattari, Coach
The Business Incubator course itself, however, is very strategic. Within the course, students are divided into “teams” each tasked to create a new business that answers a need they find, either in the marketplace or within their lives. Entrepreneurs and business experts, who generously volunteer their time as coaches and mentors, aid students through the year in all aspects of business development, including ideation, market analysis, financial modeling, web development, and sales planning – to name just of a few of the topics covered. Select teams are then invited to present their business plans during the annual Business Incubator Pitch Night. This year, Pitch Night is going to be held on May 25th at 7 pm in the Raymond Moore Auditorium at Lake Forest High School.
Pitch Night, similar to the format of ABC’s Shark Tank, is sponsored by the Lake Forest High School Foundation and BMO Private Bank and IDEX. The event is open to the public and is a celebration as select teams present their business plans to the Business Incubator Board of Directors and private Investors in the hopes of attaining funding to launch their business. The Lake Forest High School Foundation commits to funding up to $10,000 each Pitch Night to a worthy team or teams. Another coach, Mark McGreevy, stated that the overall course method helped students feel immersed in real-world workplace scenarios:
“This is a great method for the kids to learn what every startup company should know and usually don’t. I work daily with entrepreneur startups, and I wish every one of them could take this course and learn the things the kids are learning. It would actually make my job easier.” – Mark McGreevy, Coach
With increased offerings next year, the Business Incubator program provides an excellent opportunity for community members to get involved with developing tomorrow’s business leaders. In addition to attending Pitch Night on May 25th, any community members interested in coaching or mentoring within the Business Incubator program are invited to download an application and submit a resume on the Foundation’s website at www.lfhsfoundation.org. Those interested in becoming a sponsor of the program or a private investor are invited to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pitch Night is a great opportunity to support your friends and peers, as well as listen to well developed and captivating business ideas. Come out on May 25th at the RMA and learn about what your friends have been working on this past year.