Jackson Prep Entrepreneurship Class Starts and Ends at Mantle
Eight teams of Patrioteurs will pitch their new concept companies and business plans to a board of "investors" this Wednesday at Mantle. The Jackson Prep entrepreneurship class led by Lou Ann McKibbon is in the first year of a pilot program using a unique, Silicon Valley developed lean-startup platform called Launchpad Central. Prep is in fact one of the first high schools in the country to use this platform.
Launchpad Central is used by some of the top companies, entrepreneurial-ecosystems, and educators in the world, including the Mayo Clinic, Dream It Ventures, Stanford, Berkley, Penn, and Michigan. The LaunchPad platform serves as a hub, helping teams take projects from idea to validated product market fit. It provides teams of professionals or students (and their teachers and mentors) project tracking, process transparency, task accountability, and progress toward market viability & investment readiness.
This year's crop of companies began their journey towards Wednesday's investor pitch at Mantle days before school started.
The 44 individual students submitted their own idea for a company and each of the 44 ideas were then peer-rated in an anonymous forum. The students rated every company from "I wouldn't want to work on this company" to "I would love to work on this company". This blind method allowed the teams to be based on passion for a project rather than clique-based. The top twelve ideas were selected and teams of four students populated on each project. The projects and the teams were announced at a pizza party at Mantle.
Each team has taken their ideas and transformed them into operable business plans over the course of the semester. Using both Launchpad Central and team-assigned mentors from the Jackson business-community, the teams further researched their projects, tested their hypotheses, highlighted potential customers and competition, and sometimes even pivoted from the original idea. Each team followed similar rules and had the same frameworks to work within. Their progress was monitored by both their mentors and by McKibbon on Launchpad Central along the way. Yet, the paths to the investor pitch at Mantle are certain to be as different as the teams and ideas that make up the competition.
The journey ends on Wednesday when each team will present their idea, their business plan, and a real video commercial for their product to a team of investors. While the students call the whole class "Shark Tank", their will be no money on the line when they step in front of the investors in Mantle's large conference room. However, a semester's worth of hard work and team collaboration will culminate in a final grade and hopefully a memorable thrill of the startup experience.
Heck, one of the teams may receive a call from one or more of the investors with an actual dollar amount like one of the teams did last year. At the very least, these Patrioteurs can graduate to college with a business plan in their pocket and experience in their quiver.