EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – High school students from the area used the Innovation Challenge hosted by Junior Achievement of Southern Indiana, to put their ideas to the test against other students in the region.

This event allowed teams to create a business and present in front of other teams and judges. For many students including the eventual regional winners of the contest who are freshman at Gibson Southern High School, their idea for a business came out of no where.

“I think the day before we had to have an idea for class and I was in the shower and I couldn’t get the soap out of the bottom of the bottle and I texted them because I came up with the idea what if we just had a platform that just moves itself up,” Keegan Burek said.

There were 16 teams that were chosen to take part in the competition that were selected from classroom competitions.

This was their first time having the event in person since COVID began and leaders of the event were ecstatic to give students this opportunity in person.

“They were able to present these start up business concepts that they’ve worked on with a ja volunteer all semester long,” Melissa Ellis, events and marketing manager for Junior Achievement of Southern Indiana. “It was wonderful for them to be able to present it today in a shark style type of event.”

For the winners, they developed a twist turner for liquid soap bottles that moves soap up for you and works just like deodorant. But their main worry had nothing to do with the product. It was more about presenting and being one of the youngest teams in attendance.

“It was the audience. We’ve never really had an audience to present in front of and it hasn’t really been that bad,” Anthony Hall said.

Fellow teammate Jackson Absher echoed Hall’s sentiments.

“Definitely really nerve racking in the beginning but it wasn’t as bad after you present the first time,” Absher, said.

During months of preparring students condcted market research, identify business strategies, as well as critial thinking.

“They’re able to use these entrepreneurial skills that they developed throughout the semester and begin their careers afterwards and they are able to use those entrepreneurial skills in their real life,” Ellis said.