D211 Post: Investors Award $30,000 to Top Business Pitches During Pitch Night

Ideal Meal team members (left to right) Rebecca Porto, Kevin Chung, Maria Barto, and Alex Harmon, stand with i-Dry team members Aubrey Benito, Alyssa Puccia, Tiana Noud and Max Arakelian, after being awarded a combined $30,000 at the end of the District 211 Pitch Night May 15, 2018.

            Nearly 200 parents, students, and community members gathered in the auditorium at James B. Conant High School, May 15, for the third annual District 211 Pitch Night.  During the evening, teams from throughout the District pitched business ideas and products to a panel of area business leaders with the intention of gaining funding.  By the end of the night the panel of investors chose to invest $30,000 in teams Ideal Meal from William Fremd High School and i-Dry from Palatine High School.

            Top money maker Ideal Meal, made up of Fremd Seniors Maria Barto, Alex Harmon, Rebecca Porto, and Kevin Chung, received a $20,000 investment to further develop their website and eventual app which would allow patrons to search for restaurants based on food allergies, dietary restrictions or dietary preferences.  They opened their pitch by discussing personal experiences of watching friends and family with food allergies suffer while trying to visit local restaurants.

            Palatine High School’s i-Dry, which was comprised of seniors Alyssa Puccia Aubrey Benito, Tiana Noud, and Max Arakelian, received $10,000 to further develop their product which is designed to combat water damage to cell phones.  The team opened their pitch with humorous anecdotes of how they were inspired by the accidental destruction of each of their own phones.

            The Pitch Night is the culmination of the District’s Business Incubator program.  The program, which is active in all five District 211 schools, pairs teams of students with area business leaders and entrepreneurs to help them discover problems and build complete business models to create a marketable solution. 

            Patti Ertl, Conant High School Business Education Department Chair, said the pitch night was a success due to more than 100 community volunteers.  She added that the Incubator teachers from each school were already working on next year’s Pitch Night.

            “The teachers bring Juniors in the program to the Pitch Night so they can see what they are working for in the next year,” Ertl said.  “This night is great for students to have a platform which provides them some real-world experience in pitching their ideas to actual investors.”

           Other ideas pitched to the investors included NoPack, a case and stand to hold tablets wile including storage space for cords and accessories, sPark, an app which would allow the user to reserve parking in crowded parking lots, and Press Fit, which designed a compression brace for athletes.  

Conant High School seniors Jake Cosentino, Betsy Riley, Sebastian Frank, and Mark Frale show off NoPack, a tablet stand and storage case they designed and pitched during the District 211 Pitch Night May 15.

PHS, CHS Students Win Big at District 211 Business Incubator Pitch Night

Students in High School District 211’s Business Incubator program spent the school year developing business ideas to try to bring them to life with the help of investors.

Six of the best teams from each school’s Business Incubator course were selected to compete at the District Pitch Night for real funding this past May. After planning and preparation, each team presented their business idea to a panel of judges in hopes of being awarded $20,000 in seed money from the District 211 Foundation.

Two teams won this year’s seed money: Green Dirt from Conant High School and Snow and Co. from Palatine High School. Green Dirt also was recently invited to compete at the INCubatoredu National Pitch Competition that will take place at the Loyola Corby Law Center in Chicago this July.

Students enrolled in the Business Incubator class learn what it takes to be an entrepreneur, as well as how to be successful in creating their own product or service. The course covers topics about marketing, human resources, accounting, and the legal aspects of operating a business. When preparing for pitches, students worked not only with their classroom teacher, but also had support from community content experts and mentors. For the teams that did not receive funding, investors encouraged them all to continue pursuing their ideas.

The following teams participated at the District 211 pitch night event:


WINNER: Green Dirt – Conant High School 

Students: Akash Moozhayil, Kunal Mahajan, Stoil Ionov, Rohan Antony, Patryk Barszczuk

Mentor: David Wolff of Wolff’s Fleamarket          

Company overview: GreenDirt is a startup company that addresses the major problem of food waste. We collect scraps from local restaurants, convert to a premium gardening product, vermicompost, which we then sell to local nurseries and garden centers.






WINNER: Snow and Co. – Palatine High School

Students: Alex Brztowski, Katherine Perez, Nemecio Luna, Reil Snow

Mentor: CJ Ritterbusch of Concord Marketing Solutions

Company overview: The Janus Pack is the solution for students who need to charge their electronics while helping students with organizational skills.







Finalist: KickCarrier – Schaumburg High School

Students: Katherine Edeus, Daniel Galovich, Lisette Hurtado, Vincent Kandefer

Mentor: Jon Zaley of Odem Expo

Company overview: KickCarrier is a unique platform where sneakerheads can buy, sell, or trade shoes. If it doesn’t sell, we will buy it!





Finalist: ProjecTapp-Tapp Camp – Conant High School

Students: Eliot Chang, Mitesh Patel, Michael Kim

Mentor: Jim Gallo of Specialty Finishing Group

Company overview: ProjecTapp is a start-up mobile app developer for the private and public sector providing an incubator-type platform that integrates TappCamp, a coding educational and training service. TappCamp educates students in grades 5 – 12 to become app writers and future app developers for ProjecTapp that, in return, adds more innovation and creativity to the mobile app industry.





Finalist: BlissFoot – Fremd High School

Students: Laura Bienek, Aarsh Desai, Hanna Murakami, Luke Schoffstall, Gianfranco Torres

Mentor: Chris Banakis of Acuity Advisory Partners LLC

Company overview: BlissFoot provides competitive long distance runners and other endurance athletes with on-the-go protection against friction, and the resulting irritation, in order to reduce discomfort and enhance performance.





Finalist: InnerMap – Hoffman Estates High School

Students: Chloe Jefferson, Edlawit Zerihun, Errick Delaney

Mentor: Sheila Serafin of RIM Logistics

Company overview: InnerMap will design and create indoor mapping for large public buildings such as malls, airports, and stadiums. The software and app will provide consumers with step by step directions to where they need to go as well as allow retailers in the buildings to push advertising and promotions to potential customers nearby.