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Hamilton County High School Students to Compete for Innovate WithIN State Final

Throughout the month of April, 74 teams throughout Indiana competed in The STARTedUP Foundation’s Innovate WithIN regional pitch competition. At the end of each competition, a winning team was chosen to progress onto the State finals taking place at Butler University on June 10, 2022 – leading to nine regional winners and one “wild card” selected out of the second place winners.

Those regional winners, as well as the wild care, have been announced and three teams from Hamilton County are among them.

From Westfield High School, Tutor Us, created by students Alexa Jimenez and Liam Lloyd will represent region 4. Region 5 will be represented by Noblesville High School’s Gus Nance, Luke Shinneman and Landon Swift, creators of LIFTOFF Mobility. And the wild card team is Mozi, created by Carmel High School students Paul Jiang, Ellis Nou and Krishna Thiru.

Moving forward, the team that wins the state competition will receive $25,000 in seed funding to build their business, $10,000 each towards a 529 education funding plan and a $6,000 once-in-a-lifetime entrepreneurial travel experience. With these motivators and the connections students make to local entrepreneurs, Innovate WithIN has created an environment for students to thrive and be challenged to think of problems as opportunities.

“The Innovate WithIN pitch competition is another example showcasing how student learning extends much beyond the walls of a traditional classroom,” said Dr. Katie Jenner, Indiana Secretary of Education. “By empowering students to interact with industry leaders, they are honing their knowledge and skills in innovation and entrepreneurship, which will set the foundation for their future success and growth.”

After progressing to the second round, these students met with a member of Indiana Economic Development Corporation’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to continue building their company and connecting with political and business leaders in their area.

“Funneling student passion into a drive to find a creative solution to a problem not only helps fuel the momentum of Indiana’s innovation ecosystem, but it also retains forward-thinking talent in Indiana,” said David Watkins, vice president of small business of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. “Young entrepreneurs are fueled and encouraged through the help of the Indiana Small Business Development Centers, universities and events like Innovate WithIN which only help grow Indiana’s reputation as the best place to start and run a successful business.”

Due to the support, knowledge, connections, and preparation the students received from their SBDC counselor, many of the teams have adjusted their initial audience and messaging to establish a more successful business model. With the signup increase of nearly 200% in 2022 and the impressive businesses from previous years that have launched and thrived, more corporate entities are taking notice and are interested in engaging with Innovate WithIN students on a professional level.

“We are creating a network of students that see opportunities everywhere – a critical skill that many businesses are looking to implement,” said Don Wettrick, CEO and founder of the STARTedUP Foundation. “With this influx of students, we have built an Alumni Association where previous Innovate WithIN participants are connected with business leaders throughout the country offering internships and receive the unique opportunity to travel globally to expand their networks and meet other entrepreneurs.”

Prior to the state competition on June 10th, these ten teams will meet with corporate entities and hear from industry leaders during a six-week bootcamp intended to refine or pivot their ideas. All individuals and business leaders are invited to join virtually or in-person at Butler University.

  1. Region 4: Tutor Us hosted by Earlham College
    • Team Members: Alexa Jimenez, Liam Lloyd
    • School: Westfield High School
  2. Region 5: LIFTOFF Mobility hosted by Purdue University Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship
    • Team Members: Gus Nance, Luke Shinneman, Landon Swift
    • School: Noblesville High School
  3. Wild Card: Mozi
    • Team Members: Paul Jiang, Ellis Nou, Krishna Thiru
    • School: Carmel High School
  4. Region 1: Intertwined Finance LLC, hosted by University of Evansville
    • Team Members: Kerry Ao, Cooper Croslyn, Naina Muvva
    • School: Signature School Inc
  5. Region 2: TLH / The Lord’s House, sponsored by Hanover College
    • Team Member: Ty Sweeney
    • School: Salem High School
  6. Region 3: Owen’s Butcher Block hosted by Indiana State University
    • Team Member: Owen DePoy
    • School: Mooresville High School
  7. Region 6: Patchables hosted by Purdue University Northwest
    • Team Members: Kayla Davis, Isis Fleming
    • School: Hobart High School
  8. Region 7: CordPuck hosted by Marian University’s Ancilla College
    • Team Member: Lextin Willis
    • School: Bremen Senior High School
  9. Region 8: Just Breathe hosted by Purdue University Fort Wayne
    • Team Member: Paulette Martin
    • School: Manchester Jr-Sr High School
  10. Region 9: Hirify hosted by Marian University
    • Team Members: Izzy Branam, Emma Hamilton
    • School: Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School

The STARTedUP Foundation (SEUF) officially launched in 2018 to start building the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs. This is accomplished through three key initiatives: Spark, Develop, and Accelerate. Beginning with sparking innovation through the Innovate WithIN pitch competition; continuing to develop these relationships through local chapters to build up an ecosystem of businesses and nonprofits; and accelerate innovation by creating an alumni program for students previously engaged with STARTedUP.

Innovate WithIN is the most elite entrepreneurial pitch competition in the country. Up to ten teams from each of the nine Indiana regions are selected to compete in the first round of the competition with nine teams selected to progress to the State Finals. This group enters a 6-week intensive innovation bootcamp with an entrepreneurial immersion trip and final pitch for a cash prize to help launch their idea, product, or company.