Lakota Schools launching version of TV’s ‘Shark Tank’ for students

A local variation of national TV hit “Shark Tank” is coming to Lakota Schools.

Participating students from Lakota’s two high schools will be developing their own entrepreneurial projects – solving real-business world problems – before presenting their business proposals to a panel of local executives and potential investors.

Starting next school year, the new Lakota program for high school juniors and seniors will be only the second such program in Ohio, said school officials.

Lakota officials have dubbed the new program “INCubatoredu.”

Based in large part on the popular business reality show “Shark Tank,” Lakota officials said “the entrepreneurial experience is designed for upperclassmen who will work alongside professional mentors to (create and) … develop their own product or service.”

The TV show features a panel of nationally known business entrepreneurs acting as judges and bidders responding to presentations by budding business inventors seeking investment capital for their products and services.

“In the end, they will compete against their classmates, pitching their ideas to local investors who will award seed money to help make the top ideas a reality,” according to a statement released by Lakota officials.

The program is sponsored by Miami University’s Farmer School of Business John W. Altman Institute for Entrepreneurship.

Lakota Schools Superintendent Matt Miller said “we are excited to bring INCubatoredu to our students because it is designed to give them a true taste of what it takes to be an entrepreneur in today’s world.”

Miller said the new program, which will start at Lakota West and Lakota East high schools in August, is the latest reflection of the district’s strategy to experiment with new instructional methods to better prepare graduates for both careers as well as college or military service.

“The 4 Es - enrollment, employment, enlistment and entrepreneurship - are more than just a mantra for what we promote to our students as options after graduation. We are always striving to make sure our programming supports it,” he said.

This newest venture has been running parallel to the work of a steering committee made up of mostly local business leaders. The group has completely re-imagined Lakota’s pathway for future business owners and entrepreneurs.

“It’s been awesome to be part of a dynamic group of business leaders to help mold the future of American entrepreneurs and business leaders,” said local entrepreneur Steve Nguyen, a partner at Hackman Financial Group. “The partnership of a powerful education and practical interpersonal skills provides our Lakota students with the opportunity to experience ‘the business of life.’”

The group has devised two year-long introductory courses called “Essentials” and “Application and Design” forming a combination of teacher-led instruction and visiting experts in both courses that addresses business-minded concepts like finance, marketing, human resources, operations and leadership, said Lakota officials.

The business group set the foundation for INCubatoredu program, which completes the series and gives students an opportunity to apply what they learn, said officials.

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