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High School Ideas Challenge Awards $13,000 in Cash Prizes

The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship hosted the third annual Texas High School Ideas Challenge with competitive presentations, giving high school students from across the state the opportunity to visit campus and learn about entrepreneurship at Texas A&M University.

A total of 40 finalist teams, comprised of more than 100 students from 26 high schools in 14 Texas cities, were selected as finalists and invited to compete in person on campus last week.

The challenge, designed to encourage students to explore entrepreneurship and foster development of an entrepreneurial mindset, awarded $13,000 in cash prizes to the top ideas.

In addition to prize money for the top idea winners, this year’s challenge also awarded $3,750 in prizes based on “investments” from “The Crowd Fund,” with showcase guests having the opportunity to meet the student teams and learn about their service or product concept and “invest” in their favorites via “McFerrin Money.”

2023 Texas High School Ideas Challenge Winners

Top Idea Winners
1st Place ($2,500): Slap Daddy Koozies | Vandegrift HS | Austin
sponsored by High-Piled Permits, Active Industrial Fire Protection2nd Place ($2,000): Racquet Armor | Centennial HS & Frisco HS | Frisco
3rd Place ($1,750): ReactGlove | DeBakey High School for Health Professions & The Awty International School | Houston
Honorable Mention ($750): Easy Hang | Samuel V. Champion HS & Boerne HS | Boerne
sponsored by Mays Family Foundation
Honorable Mention ($750): LivLive | Westlake HS | Austin
sponsored by Mays Family Foundation
Honorable Mention ($750): Pop Pop’s Dandy Dog | Lake Creek HS | Montgomery
sponsored by Mays Family Foundation
Honorable Mention ($750): SignHi | The Woodlands College Park HS | Spring
sponsored by Mays Family Foundation

The Crowd Fund Winners
1st Place ($1,500): Easy Hang | Samuel V. Champion HS & Boerne HS | Boerne
sponsored by Education Advanced, Inc.
2nd Place ($1,250): DIabeticsOnTheGo | Central HS | San Angelo
3rd Place ($1,000): Infiniti Board | Centennial HS & Frisco HS | Frisco
sponsored by Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets

Blake Petty ’98, executive director of the McFerrin Center, said this year’s challenge proved that the future of entrepreneurship in Texas is brighter than ever. “Each year we continue to be impressed by the high quality of innovation and enterprising ideas coming out of high school students in our state,” Petty said. “Watching the challenge grow in only its first three years, now with students returning to compete in subsequent years, validates our vision and dream for this event. Not only have these young entrepreneurs identified important problems around them and in society, but they have the desire, drive and creativity to solve them.”

Alex M., Christian L. and Vincent C., all seniors from Vandegrift High School in Austin, launched their company, first-place winner Slap Daddy Koozies, after realizing most koozies are made for specific bottle and can sizes. They say they aimed to create a universal koozie that wraps around the container similar to slap bands/bracelets.

“Two of us are future Aggies, so we thought competing would be an incredible way to get to know the program,” Christian said. “We’ve been working super hard on this product, and we wanted to get it out there and get it in front of more people’s eyes to drive us toward more success.”

In addition to winning the top prize and $2,500 sponsored by High-Piled Permits, Alex and Christian noted other perks to competing in the challenge. “It was really fun to be able to pitch again,” Alex said, “because we haven’t done that for a while, and it was good to really challenge ourselves and get out of our comfort zone.”

“And the culture of being around the other teams,” Christian added. “It’s been incredible to get to know some of the other teams and learn what their ideas are. It’s inspiring to see what other people are doing.”

Following high school graduation later this month, Christian and Alex both plan to attend Texas A&M, majoring in economics and society, ethics and law (S.E.A.L.), respectively, while Vincent plans to attend the University of Mississippi, majoring in entrepreneurship. They plan to continue running Slap Daddy Koozies.

The McFerrin Center is currently planning its 2024 event, with applications opening Dec. 15. Updates and more information will be available at tx.ag/TexasHSIdeasChallenge.

The 2023 Texas High School Ideas Challenge was sponsored by:
Education Advanced, The Crowd Fund Showcase and Awards Reception sponsor
High-Piled Permits
Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets
Mays Family Foundation

Source: Texas A&M Today