Business Incubator: What Are they Doing Now?


Shaffer Franklin

At the end of the school year last year, two Business Incubator teams were funded at Pitch Night. A total of three teams moved on this year to continue perfecting their businesses.

I talked to a member in each group to see what they are doing, and the progress they have made this year. The businesses are Muscle Mend, Battle Buddies, and TopTech Teaching (formerly known as Smart Senior).

What do these business groups do? Muscle Mend is working on customized therapy kits that stores your injury specific physical therapy equipment so you can fix your physical injuries at the comfort of your home. Battle Buddies is a nonprofit organization that helps distract pediatric cancer patients from the pain of treatment by allowing them to hang out and kick back with a buddy. TopTech Teaching is a service that provides classes to help people of all age groups understand technology.

Leland Keller, the Chief of Finance for Muscle Mend, informed me that their group’s biggest change is going from a kit for every region of the body to two kits that target upper and lower body.

They are currently trying to find a manufacturer, so hopefully there will be an inventory in the near future. Muscle Mend is planning a March Madness Fundraiser. This fundraiser is a “Pay to Play” tournament. Everyone who wants to join and pays will submit a bracket.

Next year, Muscle Mend wants to continue their business as they continue their lives in college and will most likely interview a group of current LFHS juniors, who are in the Business Incubator program currently and don’t make it past pitch night. These juniors would help run it from Lake Forest High School as seniors.

Keller added, “We’re really excited we got to go to the second year and it’s been a great experience!”

Ashley Bufe, the Secretary for Battle Buddies, informed me that their group has grown a lot since starting the accelerated program. The company has made a substantial income of $10,000 this year and is continuing to make more. The students have focused more on organizing a board of directors, lawyers, and getting help with insurance.

In the future, Battle Buddies hopes to expand to more high schools. They plan on reaching out to more troopers (the patients) and connecting them to more high school volunteers from those other high schools.

The group will be hosting more fundraisers at CROYA, a spring fundraiser. Look forward to some arts and crafts, a bake sale, t-shirt making, and more!

Next year, the five seniors plan to have this year’s juniors help them out from LFHS but still be in communication with the founders of Battle Buddies.
Bufe stated, “It’s been a fun year. We have learned a lot and grew as people, group members, and as business partners.”

Kate Reinhardt, the Chief of Finance for Top Tech Teaching, informed me that their group has expanded their business to encompass a wider age range. As of last year, they were only focusing on teaching seniors, persons the ages of 65-95. However, this year they were able to expand their business to students starting in elementary school and parents. Since this change was made, they are no longer SmartSenior, but now are TopTech Teaching.

In the future, TopTech Teaching hopes to expand their business outside of the Lake Forest area and out into other towns around the North Shore. Another thing that they hope to achieve in the future is to expand their target market not only to the seniors in our area, but rather to adults our parents’ age because we have found that they struggle with the basic of everyday technology.

TopTech Teaching host classes every Wednesday at Dickinson Hall from 9-10AM. These classes center around the questions and problems that people have with the technologies they bring. In addition, they host classes every Sunday at Lake Forest Place for the residents there. For the middle generation, the parents, TopTech Teaching is looking to present its classes to parents at 5th grade “fly up day” and at the Lake Bluff Rec Center.

Next year, these students will continue their business while they attend college, as well as have a group of new high school seniors helping them out- just like Battle Buddies and most likely Muscle Mend.

Keep up the hard work, business group; you’re doing great!