First-ever countywide competition highlights high-schoolers' business ideas

The future of entrepreneurism was on full display in Genesee County’s first high school "Pitch It" competition — developing creative solutions to language barriers, mental illness, sweaty hands while gaming, finding a pet, and drinking enough water through the day. 

The Genesee Intermediate School District pitch competition featured 18 students from throughout Genesee County and their ideas for products. Five presentations were awarded for their creativity, pitch delivery, presentation skills, and unique ideas. Winners received a $250 Visa gift card, Apple AirPods, and lunch with a local entrepreneur. The winners also will be featured on a billboard.

“I’ve always had a heart for people and I love helping people. I actually want to be a therapist when I’m older. So, I thought what can I bring to that and build a business out of that want,” said Alyssa Denman from GISD/Genesee Career Institute, one of the five winning students.

Her pitch was for Finding Joy,  a regional therapy center funded through grants to help those with mental illnesses. Judges cited Alyssa’s passion and credibility — backed by her extensive use of statistics to support her ideas — during her pitch.

Other top finishers included: 
  • Alexis Lund from Clio High School for Pixel Buds, wireless earbuds that would actively translate foreign languages. Lund was recognized for her opening, confidence and how she pulled the judges into the problem of language barriers.
  • Melodie Marsh from GISD/Genesee Early College for a water bottle that helps keep people hydrated and on a healthy drinking schedule by vibrating when it is time for the user to take a drink.She was awarded for the fixing of a problem and her presentation skills.
  • Andrico Moffett from Westwood Heights Academy West for Slip Grippys, waterproof grips that would attach to any gaming controller. Made from recycled silicone and water bottles from the Flint Water Crisis, the grips help gamers keep their hold on controllers when their hands start to sweat.
  • Shaelynn Lavrack from Montrose Hill McCloy High School for Pet Match Plus, a mobile application that would help users find the perfect pet for them in their area. This idea would help take pets out of overcrowded shelters and make the adoption process easier. The judges were impressed by her clear communication and her creative idea.
The competition was judged by five judges including three local entrepreneurs, GISD’s superintendent and the program director for education at the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, which supported the program.
And students were left thrilled at the opportunity to compete. Andrico said his favorite part of the event was “when the judge announced my name — just knowing that I’ve actually done something that I’m going to remember and that I can go home and brag to my sister about.”

Other school finalists who competed in the pitch competition included  Gavin Bohms from Atherton High School, Brianna Campbell from Beecher High School, Connor Smith from Bentley High School, Taniya Boggan from Carman-Ainsworth High School, T.K. Thomas from Flint Southwestern Classical Academy, Jordan Roe from Flushing High School, Zach Hawk from Grand Blanc High School, Latisha Jones from International Academy of Flint, Colton Joseph from Kearsley High School, Brianna Johnson from Lake Fenton High School, Tiara Darisaw from Mt. Morris E.A. Johnson High School, Christina El Zarka from Swartz Creek High School, and Rayonna Smith from Westwood Heights Hamady High School.
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