BISD Students Compete for Entrepreneurship Grant


Gabriela Clayton

All four teams are lined up on stage after pitching their products to the audience and judges. They are waiting for the winners to be announced.

Champion High School hosted the first Incubator Pitch Night Thursday, April 29th from 6 to 8 p.m. Entrepreneurship students from Boerne and Champion High School showcased their inventions and competed for the $7,000 grand prize provided by local businesses.
Four groups of 2-3 members spent 5-6 months preparing inventions, pitching their ideas to sponsors, and testing their products.
“I created this program to have a rigorous communicational entrepreneurship opportunity,” Chief Operating Officer, Mrs. Margarita Geleske said.
Incubator Pitch Night is similar to the television show Shark Tank, as teams present an invention to a group of five main judges. The four teams, SOleCold, Vandangles, El Dorado, and Acemade, presented working models for the judges to examine, a graph or chart explaining the projected rises in profit and revenue over the next three years, their marketing plan, and engaged in a timed session of questions from the judges.
The first up was SOleCold, whose product was a shoe sole meant to keep feet cool when standing on elevated surface temperatures. It was run by BHS senior Matt Michalec, CHS senior Walker Butler, and BHS junior Tate Cracraft. Their design is meant for athletes who spend hours on hot asphalt and is made with an aluminum silicone compound. When creating their product and adjusting details based on whether or not the product worked, they faced multiple challenges and redesigns.
“We failed a lot, but in that failure we achieved success,” Butler said.
They plan to reach out to a podiatrist — a foot care professional — to find out the best way to incorporate comfortable arch support. SOleCold also pitched their product at Texas A&M University the day after pitch night in another competition, winning $1,000 as 6th place.
The second competitor was Vandangles, an affordable handmade jewelry company, run by BHS seniors Shea Van Stavern and Jessica Mahan, with CHS senior Jason Calandres. They create quality products with entirely biodegradable packaging. Vandangles created a website which already has five-star reviews, and social media accounts that gained a total of 6,000 profile visits in the same month.
Vandangles began selling products to the Boerne community in November, and later expanded to San Antonio and other states. Their prices are meant to be reasonable compared to similar competitor jewelry companies that charged $30+ for earrings and rings.
“We may spend more on pure metal wires compared to other companies, but we wanted pure, healthy jewelry products,” CEO Van Stavern said.

CHS senior Jason Calandres and BHS seniors Jessica Mahan and Shea Van Stavern accept their check for 2nd place. (Gabriela Clayton)

The third group to present their project was El Dorado, a vintage clothing company run by Champion seniors Kaden Taylor, Gage Petty, and Pace Thompson. The team planned to create a thrifted clothing line that reduced the clothing industry’s trend of bad environmental impacts known as Fast Fashion. El Dorado was designed because many thrift stores, such as Goodwill and Salvation Army, do not have a prominent online presence which made it difficult to shop during quarantine. El Dorado is a business based on buying products in bulk from other companies and then reselling them under the normal sale price.
The last team was Acemade, created by CHS seniors Daniel Stripling and Will Williamson. They designed a golf ball dispenser intended to conserve time and space.
Every time golfers lose a golf ball they have to retrace their steps and refill their golf ball caddies so they can continue playing with the correct amount of balls. Their design was a magnetic product that attached to the metal bars inside a golf cart, holding six golf balls at a time with an easy refill process and a glove holder.
Acemade marketed to local corporations, golf courses, and avid golfers, planning to produce golfing tees and other merchandise further down the line. Acemade also attended the Texas A&M University competition SOleCold attended, winning $1,500 as 4th place.

CHS seniors Daniel Stripling and Will Williamson accept their check for Acemade as the first place winner. (Gabriela Clayton)

The judges of the pitch night awarded Acemade with 1st prize of 7,000 dollars, Vandangles took 2nd place prize of 5,000 dollars, and SOleCold took the 3rd place prize of 3,000 dollars.
“I’d like to congratulate the groups, and also applaud them for taking the first step of many,” Judge Bill Bird said. “They’ll be challenged multiple times and given opportunities to apply what they’ve learned today, and I would hope that 20 years from now they’ll think back and remember where it all started.”