SSHS sophomore's business pitch recognized in "The Prospects"

HELENA – The Montana Chamber Foundation recognized Seeley-Swan High School Sophomore Conner Chadwick's business proposal "Periscopic Poles" in The Prospects 2022 High School Business Pitch Competition. Chadwick was among four other winners in the Automotive Industry Ideas category. He received $250 for his proposal.

"I was surprised and flattered honestly," Chadwick said. "I didn't expect to make it but it was really nice."

The Prospects is a virtual statewide entrepreneurship competition that recognizes high school students with new ideas and existing small businesses. The Montana Chamber Foundation collaborates with Youth Entrepreneurs to invest in Montana students and develop a mentorship platform to connect them with business and community leaders.

"We recognize the importance to empower our youth to see themselves as having unlimited, human potential to create their futures through critical thinking, self expression and innovation," said Lanny Hubbard, president of the Montana Chamber Foundation, in The Prospects Awards Show April 22.

The 1,000-word business proposal and one-minute video submission for the competition was the last project SSHS teacher Michele Holmes assigned in the Entrepreneurship Class. Holmes explained that this year the Chamber shifted how the proposals were categorized. She did not realize the changes until after the students had already written their ideas and made videos.

Holmes said all of the proposals from the class were good. She felt Chadwick's project really embodied entrepreneurism and was a product created to solve a local issue.

Chadwick came up with the idea for his business pitch this winter while driving around Seeley Lake.

"In the winter it is difficult to see around corners due to the snow banks," Chadwick said.

Modeling his product after periscopes used by submarines, he came up with the idea of a collapsible pole with a camera at the end. The pole would be extended and stuck out the window when the driver's view is obstructed. This would allow them to see any oncoming traffic and make an informed decision about entering the intersection. The image would be displayed at the base of the stick or could be blue toothed to the driver's phone.

"I was just kind of brainstorming some ideas and Mrs. Holmes said that is a really good idea so I just expanded on it," Chadwick said. "It seemed like an original idea to me."

In the promotional video, Chadwick used a tripod to model the idea. He did all the videography and editing.

Chadwick used the design concepts and tools for marketing and idea pitching he learned from the Entrepreneurship Class.

"The class was very informative about how to start a business, how to keep it going, how to advertise it and anything else like that," Chadwick said.

He chose the name "Periscopic Poles" and closed his promotional video with the phrase "And don't forget to periscope out" to help market his product.

"Being catchy is a really good marketing idea," Chadwick said.

Chadwick said the biggest challenge was calculating the cost of goods sold and return on investments because he did not know exactly how it would be designed. He estimates the total startup costs would be around $400-$800 depending on advertising and labor costs.

There were 139 total submissions from 117 high schools and 22 junior highs that participated in The Prospects Business Competition this year. More than 100 judges selected the winners and the Montana Chamber Foundation awarded $75,000 to 33 schools across the state.

Car dealers across the state reviewed the submissions for the Automotive Industry Ideas category.

"There were too many good ones so we broke it up into four winners," said Matthew Olson, Montana Chamber of Commerce Director of Network Development, during the awards ceremony.

Chadwick received $250 along with three other students from Glasgow and Billings Senior. While he's not sure what he will do with his earnings, Chadwick plans to do more research on how to further develop his business idea or get it patented. He added he appreciated all of Holmes' help with the project and he really enjoyed it.

"It was a great way to motivate kids in Montana Schools to make businesses and help the economy," Chadwick said. "I think it would be really cool if some day I could see my product on a shelf or buy it myself even."

"It is a great opportunity for our students to gain experience in "pitching" ideas and so great to get statewide exposure," Holmes said. "I look forward to continuing this and trying to broaden to any student interested."

Chadwick is the second SSHS student to be recognized in The Prospect Competition. Last year Hannah Ayers received an honorable mention for her Sandwich Shop business proposal.

Chadwick's promotional video is available on the Seeley-Swan High School Facebook page. To learn more about the competition visit montanachamber.com.

 

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