Photo courtesy of the MCPS YouTube channel
Years spent in high school are typically thought of as preparation for college. High school is usually not viewed as a period of time to start developing a career. That preparation usually comes around the end of college. MCPS has decided to change this through the creation of the MCPS Business Pitch Challenge.
Towards the end of March, the county held the MCPS Business Pitch Challenge in a virtual setting. This event is similar to Shark Tank but instead of judge Mark Cuban, representatives from the MCPS Business Management and Finance Program Advisory Committee serve as the judges. From vaccine trackers to homeless shelters, inclusive hair products to shoe-reselling software, innovative ideas were pitched by ambitious students from nine high schools across the county. These students competed for a cash prize and gained the opportunity to learn more about entrepreneurship.
WCHS seniors Matias Florez and Matthew Hagger, both enrolled in WCHS’ Entrepreneurship course, learned about the opportunity from their teacher, Mr. Isaac McElheny. In an attempt to bring WCHS into the challenge, the duo created 360 Armadillo and presented it before the local entrepreneur judges.
“We presented our product, 360 Armadillo, which is a software for customers who request any of our three services (lawn care, house cleaning, car cleaning) to be connected to service men or companies that can provide these services at a current time,” Florez said.
Although they did not win first place, the duo worked hard on their design plans. They thought of just about every detail, from payment to color theme. They even created a way for the app to build a profit.
“You get to choose a radius of 10, 25 or 50 miles. The further the service is requested from, the more they charge the customer.” Hagger said. “The customer then pays in the app itself, and our system automatically keeps 10% of the payment.”
After the students pitch their idea, there is a four-minute Q&A between the five judges, the moderator and the students after their presentation. Judges are given the opportunity to inquire about the logistics of the product, and offer advice to the students.
“I was very proud to see how the judges reacted with pure compliments and no criticism or disagreement at all, unlike how they did give some criticism to others.” Hagger said.
The team had to get creative with finding ways to work together on their idea, without actually being together. The pandemic slightly hindered their ability to collaborate, but they managed to do it. This required constant virtual communication and lots of research.
“To prepare for the challenge, I scheduled a two hour meeting after school with Mr McElheny, I began doing research on multiple ideas and thoughts I already had in mind, and I stayed in touch with Matthew through Discord.” Florez said. “On Wednesday, March 17th 2021, Teen Tech Blue was officially founded. After hours of research, coding, video producing and contacting multiple people for additional support, we finally declared our idea, 360 Armadillo.”
As times are changing, the number of opportunities for students to join the business world is growing. Florez and Hagger are evidence that even high school students can join the entrepreneurship game.
“This experience taught me how it feels to be your own leader,” Florez said. “It showed me a career in which there is no limit. You are free to take your creativity wherever you want to take it.”
A recording of the event is available on the MCPS YouTube Channel for all viewers.