NORTH CANTON  Seniors in Hoover High School's senior business management class took first and second places in the Junior Achievement of East Central Ohio NextGen Entrepreneurs’ Company Program Challenge at Stark State College on April 27. The Beelieve company won a $750 company bonus for first place and the ReImagine company won a $500 company bonus for second place.

The competition is a county-wide challenge. This year, 12 teams from six high schools competed. The schools included Hoover High School, Massillon, Sandy Valley, GlenOak, Lake and Marlington.

Students from Hoover High School were part of Mike Grady’s business class. They work with Junior Achievement throughout the year to find investors, assign job positions and create, produce and sell products.

The class combines business theory with hands-on learning. Grady said the seniors in his class are part of a three-year program where the students learn basic business practices. The first year is an introduction to business. Accounting practices are taught in the second year and business management is covered during the third year. Students receive college credits for some of the coursework.

Students participate in an in-classroom challenge to practice their presentations for the NextGen Entrepreneurs’ Challenge. Students pitch their company products and give a presentation about their company performance. Part of the presentation includes each company creating and setting up trade show booths.

The three teams this year had differing products for both business-to-business sales and consumer sales.

The Beelieve company designed and manufactured products for consumers to purchase and use to help rejuvenate the bee population. ReImagine company produced and sold a travel cup that fits in a car cup holder to hold coins and help keep the cup holder organized.

Company Drops created a customizable drinking travel cup. Consumers can have their name and logo engraved on the travel cups. 

Members of all three teams were busy talking with members of companies from the other schools, judges and others attending the competition.

"After we got here and got registered, we setup our tradeshow booth and then presented to the judges," Drops CEO Charlie Bond. "They (judges) called each group randomly and we had four minutes to present and the judges had four minutes to ask us questions."

ReImagine Project Manager Adam Burns said their product has been selling well over the year with 328 units having been sold since January.

"I think our presentation went well, people have been telling us that they thought we did the best presentation, so I think our chances of winning is good," he said.

And the winners are ...

While all three teams worked hard for their successes throughout the school year, both of the winning teams had an extra level of excitement taking first and second places. CEOs of both companies spoke for the teams.

Beelieve CEO Ivan Dong said of his company’s first place win, "It’s exciting and I’m happy, we had $4,000 in sales and our team members handmade over 5,000 seed bombs." 

After ReImagine won second place, CEO Kevin Gartner said he couldn’t be more proud of his team. His group had to overcome many challenges throughout the school year including pivoting their company to a new product mid-year.

"It was great standing on stage with my team members especially after all we had to overcome to get here," Gartner said. "All of our hard work paid off. Our first company produced a wine bottle planter and it turned out to be too difficult to produce and we had zero sales. After we pivoted to the coin holder cup and got a new name, we had just under $4,000 in sales."