Westfield High School Students Compete in Entrepreneurial Pitch Competition
Writer / Megan Arszman
While most of their classmates were enjoying time away from school work, five Westfield High School juniors and seniors put in overtime work to prepare for a statewide competition.
The students prepared for Innovate WithIN, an entrepreneurial pitch competition with a $25,000 prize and an opportunity to collaborate with some of the country’s leading innovators to turn their ideas into reality.
Their first stop was the Westfield Chamber of Commerce, where they participated in the city’s first Shark Tank competition on March 18. Three teams presented their ideas, and one took home the top prize. The teams used the competition as a warm-up for the statewide competition.
“This was a great experience because this time we did our pitch in person, and not recorded over Zoom,” says Kyle Emgenbroich, a Westfield High School junior.
Emgenbroich, who has excelled in business classes in school and wants to major in business in college, was approached by teacher John Moore about helping a fellow student prepare his pitch for a smartphone application he created. Sam Huser, also a junior, is a self-proclaimed coder who doesn’t know much about business. It was a perfect partnership.
“Sam needed someone who thinks rationally about certain business aspects that he just isn’t wired to see,” Emgenbroich says.
Huser has been working on an application called PikIt, which he describes as “Tinder for restaurants.” The application allows groups of friends to choose a restaurant by swiping right or left. An algorithm helps to determine the most common denominator between the group to help choose the restaurant. It works with Google Maps, so any restaurant registered with Google is available on the application. It has been a major project for Huser throughout COVID-related shutdowns, ever since his sister gave him the idea when she needed help choosing a place to eat.
“Kyle is very good at what he does,” Huser says. “I could never do what he has done for PikIt when it comes to making it sound exciting. I’ll just overcomplicate things.”
Seniors Jacob Mills, Max Amenta and Addy Famuyiwa presented the Orbiter. Inspired by a gift from his boss during an internship, Mills wanted to create a device to make interaction with computers easier than having to use a joystick or a mouse. The Orbiter allows for digital objects to be held and manipulated, while making movement easier in computer-aided design or computer-generated imagery. His goal leading up to Innovate WithIN was to improve ergonomics, to help alleviate carpal tunnel syndrome.
“I just love making things,” Mills says. “My dream job would be to work for Tesla.”
The team of three brought home the $1,000 prize from the Westfield Chamber of Commerce, and Mills hopes for a successful run in the statewide competition. He’s also working on obtaining a patent for the Orbiter.
“Jacob is a brilliant mind,” Moore says. “His Orbiter will be a huge success. It’s a perfect example of him seeing a need in the engineering community and creating a device to solve the problem.”
Moore explains that Team Mills and Team Huser grew out of Westfield’s Shark Tank club. The club teams up innovative students with business-minded students to bring their ideas into reality. He hopes the club will connect students and their ideas with business owners in Westfield, and set them up with mentors.
“Those partnerships won’t only benefit the students, but will greatly benefit our local businesses as well,” Moore says. “I spent the last 13 years managing a small business in Westfield, and this is my first year as a teacher. I know the importance of these relationships, and I’m really excited to watch these partnerships grow in the future.”