Start Up for Students


Members of Dapper Car Wash meet with their mentor during first period of Business Incubator. Photo courtesy of Amy Amber

Ben Szalinski, Sports Editor

  With the addition of a new STEM building, MHS followed the lead of other area high schools like Barrington and created a Business Incubator class. The class is designed to teach students about entrepreneurship by putting them in groups and giving them the task of creating their own business with mentoring from community members.

 Business Teacher Amy Amber, who taught the class during the first semester, said that the class helps students with their presentation skills and, most importantly, allows students to learn and practice business concepts in a low-risk environment.

  At the end of the semester, the groups present to a board of investors in a pitch that is similar to what viewers would see on the show “Shark Tank”. The investors, made up of community business leaders, pick two groups from each semester to present at a larger scale presentation in the auditorium in May for a cash prize.

During first semester, PropStop and LikeU were the winning proposals selected for the May presentation. PropStop is boat mechanism that is designed to prevent boats from running aground by detecting possible barriers and shutting off the propeller to stop the boat. LikeU is an app that is designed to connect students on college campuses based on interests and hobbies.

  Last semester, the students presented a wide variety of ideas, including new apps, clothing lines or products designed to improve safety.

  Senior McKenzie Theis’s group created UClick Hairbrushes. The modification of an already existing product is supposed to help people remove hair from their brushes without having to pull it out of the brush with their hands.  Her group has earned coverage from the Daily Herald and has the ability to begin production of their product now if they wanted. However, they’re unsure if they will go forward at this point or how to go about that process.

  “The class has boosted my confidence in being able to communicate, present and network,” said Theis.

  Junior Yasmeen Fathallah was one of the cofounders of CommuniCrate, a subscription service to local products aimed at helping small businesses gain customers.

   “I gained an appreciation for how much effort needs to be put into making a start-up business. Along with that, I now understand the processes that are apart of starting up a business,” Fathallah said.

  Since the class has just started, students had some critiques of the class as well.

  For example, some students did not like that they were only given the choice to create groups with the people in their class.  They would have preferred creating groups ahead of time and then being assigned to a class period by group.

  Senior Jacob Holton, who is one of the founders of Dapper Car Wash, said, “Given the uncertainty of who your class was made up of and how groups would fit together, it makes sense that you should’ve been able to select the members of your group prior to the class.”

  Students also said they wished there was a second class to help ideas get off the ground.

  Other students started to describe the class as a “blow-off” class because of the ample amount of work time allowed for the projects.

  However, instructors try to put these concerns to rest by outlining the skills that will be learned in the class along with extra instruction from coaches and mentors.

  “Go in with an open mind. Be willing to take risks and learn as much as you can from outside individuals,” Amber recommended.

  For people who would like more information about the businesses created in the class, visit