Written by Dana Krems
Five students from the Illinois Math and Science Academy in Aurora, Ill., earned first place and a cash award in the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Midwest High School Pitch Competition on March 17, 2021. The team of Christo Ekimov, Eunice Kim, Revanth Poondru, Edward Zhang, and Kaylee Zhou won with their pitch for Solidify, a chemical compound to prevent the impact of acid rain on concrete.
This year, the exciting, fast-paced Shark Tank-style event featured seven student teams from throughout Wisconsin and Illinois that vied for thousands of dollars in startup funding. The competitors developed unique business ideas and pitched their startups to the judges — including angel investors and other successful entrepreneurs — who dissected the business models with rapid-fire questions. All participants received invaluable feedback on their ideas and presentations.
“We launched this event in 2017 to foster creativity and innovation at the high school level and to highlight the university’s world-class entrepreneurship program,” said Dave Gee, lecturer, entrepreneurship program coordinator, UW-Whitewater Launch Pad co-director, and CEO chapter advisor.
“UW-Whitewater’s entrepreneurship program not only helps students to develop the competencies to launch their own companies but also to drive innovation in any organization,” Gee added. “The program is focused on building an entrepreneurial, problem-solving mindset.”
Maren Selle from Fort Atkinson High School in Fort Atkinson, Wis., took second place with Heated Hoodie, and Dhruv Patel from the Illinois Math and Science Academy in Aurora, Ill., earned third place with Contrush.
Aiden Holstein from New Trier High School in Wilmette, Ill., was awarded fourth place for Drystorm Balaclava, and the team of Kathleen Baker, Mihir Chathurvedula, Gibby Husby, Kate Malooley, and Priscilla Stern from Barrington High School in Barrington, Ill., placed fifth with Solidify.
Evan Halverson from Menasha High School in Menasha, Wis., and Kylie Morrey from River Valley High School in Spring Green, Wis., were both runners-up.
The Midwest High School Pitch event is managed by the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization. The UWW CEO chapter’s mission is to inform, support and inspire college students to be entrepreneurial and seek opportunity through enterprise creation.