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Lancaster Catholic students pitch business ideas, earn college credit

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Lancaster Catholic seniors Gloria Cao, left, and Mariana Duran pitch their group's startup idea, GloUp, to a panel of judges.
Lancaster Catholic seniors Gloria Cao, left, and Mariana Duran pitch their group's startup idea, GloUp, to a panel of judges. - (Photo / )

Mariana Duran plans to major in international relations and marketing after high school and hopefully start her own company someday.

Last week, the Lancaster Catholic High School senior got a taste of both goals as she and her peers pitched their business ideas to local business leaders.

Duran was one of 24 students — split into five groups — who pitched startup ideas as part of their final projects in a dual-credit course with Millersville University on entrepreneurship.

She was one of the marketing leads in a pitch for a beauty platform called GloUp, designed to help promote aspiring makeup artists to potential clients looking for affordable and convenient services outside of a salon setting.

“I’ve never done something like this before,” she said after her team’s pitch.

School officials said the competition, which was added this year to the class, gives students a unique opportunity to work in teams to come up with a real-life business plan, complete with projections for revenue and costs, a marketing strategy and a pitch deck of slides to help lure investors.

“We felt entrepreneurship would benefit and help the students find a business track they would want to take,” said Nick Marinaro, a math teacher and moderator of the entrepreneurship class.

Students also earn three undergraduate credits from the class. Lancaster Catholic donors help offset the cost of the program.

Senior Tobey Prime, who was part of a team that pitched a chicken wing food truck business, said the experience was good because it put the students in an uncomfortable environment where they had to focus on time management and teamwork, as well as have immediate answers to questions from the judges to defend their business plan.

At the end of the week, judges were tasked with deciding which startup they felt was most investable as a business and which group did the best job in presenting their plan.

Easy Eats, a recipe app for people with dietary restrictions, won the competition, according to Oliver Feakins, president of Lancaster-based tech firm Track5Media, who taught the AP class.

The members of the winning team received Amazon gift cards.

Other pitches included a reusable straw company and a non-partisan political platform aimed at presenting voters with unbiased facts.

“These kids could be the next generation of entrepreneurs,” Feakins said.

Thirteen students took the AP class last year, its first, when it did not involve the pitch competition. This year, about 30 to 35 students applied for the 24-seat class.

“It’s definitely growing,” Marinaro said.

Joe Sahd, director of constituent relations in the school’s advancement office, said he sees this type of program as a way to get more local alumni professionals involved in the school as mentors to students. The school has 605 students this year, including roughly 170 seniors.

“It’s a unique educational opportunity and helps differentiate Lancaster Catholic,” Sahd said.

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Jason Scott

Jason Scott

Jason Scott covers state government, real estate and construction, media and marketing, and Dauphin and Cumberland counties. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at jscott@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @JScottJournal.

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