Firstrust Bank Huddles with Phila. Eagles for High-School Business Proposal Competition
The competitors arrived ready to battle, an apt outlook considering their surroundings. Five teams of students were at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Phila. Eagles, unfazed by the presence of media, conferring with coaches in the pre-game lull, shaking off nerves by reviewing their business proposal content.
The contest they were gearing up for was the 2022 Entrepreneurs Game Plan, a joint effort by the bank, the Eagles, and EVERFI, a digital education provider from Washington, D.C.
Held in the stadium’s Firstrust Bank Club, the meet culled high school students from across the area for their business ideas. Students were required to create a new product, devise a marketing plan around it, project financial performance, and describe it in detail to a panel of judges.
The five survivors from prior elimination rounds that included 30 area high schools and 27 product pitches were ready to vie for the top spot.
The Competitors and Their Judges
The schools participating in this winner-takes most showdown were:
- Cheltenham High School, Wyncote, Pa.
- Central Bucks High School – South, Warrington, Pa.
- Delsea Regional High School, Franklinville, N.J.
- Hempfield High School, Landisville, Pa. (Westmoreland County)
- Springfield High School, Erdenheim, Pa. (Montgomery County)
They would be required not only to excel at the public speaking portion of the presentation but also remain unflappable under questioning from a judging panel of business professionals. The panel of evaluators were:
- Tim Abell, President, Firstrust Bank
- Peggy Leimkuhler, COO, EVP, Firstrust Bank
- Lauren Bernstein, EVP and head of account management, EVERFI
- Frank Gumienny, CFO of the Philadelphia Eagles
- Avonte Maddox, Philadelphia Eagles cornerback
As the presenters ran through their five-minute pitches, it was clear they had prepared extensively and anticipated all questions.
Two products connected solidly with the audience in attendance.
Doghouse on Wheels is a dog treat company from Delsea Regional High School. Its N.J. student leaders made the strategically advantageous decision to give each audience member a sample of its signature canine cookie. The snack’s overabundance of peanut butter — a perennial favorite among dogs — was visible through the packaging.
Also popular was the business idea from Paddle Baddle, the team from Hempfield High School in Lancaster County.
Its product is a set of domed discs that its inventors proposed to make ping pong that much more competitive and challenging. The equipment sits on the table during play and can be used strategically — by aiming a returned ball directly at it — to vary play. The point system remains the same as traditional ping pong.
The Paddle Baddle team engaged Eagle Avonte Maddox in an impromptu game; it wasn’t long before he was reaching for shots that were careering wildly off the table.
Bucks and Montgomery Counties
Closer to home were the teams from Bucks County and two entrants from Montgomery County.
The Bucks County entrepreneurs — representing their company, Philadelphia Hydroelectric — proposed a working method for commercial and residential property owners to make their own power from a nearby water source like a river or small stream.
The two Montgomery County contestants proposed a brightly branded vending machine, presented by its Cheltenham High School creator, and a battery heated ice cream scoop, from its inventor team from Springfield High School. The social media plan for this product was especially effective, showing frustrated consumers trying to pry frozen ice cream servings from cardboard pints using traditional spoons.
As the judges deliberated, the teams were treated to a tour of the Eagles’ locker room. There, they were given personalized nameplates, swag bags, and the opportunity to pose for pictures with Swoop and two Eagles Cheerleaders.
Nervously seated back in the Firstrust Bank Club, the participants heard the results of their business proposal presentations:
First place was team Paddle Baddle from Landisville. For that win, the school received a $2,500 grant toward its business entrepreneurship curriculum.
Second place went to Easy Scoop, Erdenheim, netting it a $1,000 grant.
Third place was awarded to the remaining three teams, each getting a $500 award.
In assessing the work of these fledgling entrepreneurs and their business proposal evaluations, Firstrust’s Peggy Leimkuhler said, “Every company starts with a pitch, and through Entrepreneurs Game Plan, we’ve been able to equip students with the resources, knowledge, and financial literacy needed to become future business leaders.
“I’m inspired by the creativity and passion of these young entrepreneurs, and I am excited to see them take the ideas they’ve developed through the program and potentially grow them in the real world.”
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