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Members of the 2013 - 2014 Texas Bank and Trust Student Board of Directors (SBOD) tested their innovation skills this year with Investment Quest, another real-world simulation in entrepreneurship. The students were divided into seven-member teams and asked to develop an original product, service, or business concept.
Local business leaders, who are themselves entrepreneurs, served as the panel of potential “investors” for the students. In Longview, the panelists included Dean Waskowiak, President/CEO of Encore Multimedia; Dr. Darrel Sherman, partner with Sherman, Sherman, & Briscoe Orthodontics; Morgan Strong, owner of Morgan Abbigail boutique; and Kyle Adams, owner of Kyle’s Qwik Stop convenience stores. In Tyler, the panelists were William “Bob” Leavine, Founder/President of WRL General Contractors; Rocky Gill, President, Express Employment Professionals; Karen Horton, owner of Karen Horton & Co. and Relax Hour Spa; and Greg Walker, President of East Texas Copy Systems.
The Investment Quest team that succeeded in securing the largest percentage of their investment request for their project was named as the “TBT Young Entrepreneurs of the Year!”
In Longview, members of the team designated as Team DeLand (named for their advisor Dorrie DeLand, TB&T Vice President and Main Bank Branch Manager) took home top honors at the final student board meeting on Thursday, April 10. The team was led by Longview High School senior Tanner Thompson and included team members Garrett Littlejohn, fellow Longview High School senior; Pine Tree High School seniors Kaitlyn Miller, Macy Shaw, Rebecca Kirchoff, and Emma Hellen; and Trinity School of Texas senior Erin Spradlin.
Team DeLand bested their six competitors with an innovative smartphone app to record class lectures and meetings. The “Say What” app would allow users to record an oral presentation, transcribe it to written form, and forward it as either a text message or email. Team DeLand, which planned to market the app to high school and college students, originally asked for only $15,000 and a 20 percent stake in their company to develop the app. They succeeded in receiving $90,000 while giving up 45 percent of their venture.
In Tyler, members of the team designated as Team West (named for their team advisor Shawyna West, TB&T Operations Supervisor) were declared the winners at their final student board meeting on Thursday, April 17. The team was led by Robert E. Lee senior Dhruv Narayanan and included team members Graham Thompson and Kylar Gee, fellow REL seniors; Grace Community School seniors Abigail Crawford and Monica Lim; and John Tyler seniors Cristal Galindez and Erick Gonzalez.
Team West led seven other teams with an innovative collapsible filtered water bottle. The bottle would allow individuals to drink water safely anywhere in the world. In an effort to market the bottle to organizations serving third world and developing countries, Team West originally asked for $250,000 and a 15 percent stake in the company to develop the bottles. They succeeded in quadrupling their request with $1 million in funding while giving up 45 percent of their venture.
Through the nine-month Investment Quest program, the student directors worked to conceptualize and develop their innovations. Though the program was a simulation of investment requesting, and no funds actually changed hands, the students were questioned as real entrepreneurs on all aspects of their product, from marketing and distribution to manufacturing and competitive advantage of their innovations. Each team was paired with a TB&T officer or employee to serve as an advisor to help prepare the students for making their pitch.
In addition to the winning team innovations, the remaining Investment Quest project teams presented unique and inventive products and services looking improve consumers’ lives with technology and convenience. The presentations included a grocery delivery service, a single digital ID card to hold all of one’s personal information, GPS tracking stickers for personal items, fabric sleeves to protect athletic shoes; an in-car device/app to lock teens’ cell phones while driving to prevent texting; shoes fitted with batteries to charge smart devices while walking; and a novel set of wrist cuffs, touted as Drip Dri, designed to catch food juices when dining. Several of the teams even impressed the investors with prototypes of their inventions.
This year marked the first time Student Board members participated in the Investment Quest program. Previous student boards have competed in stock market games and The Fortune 100 Project, a small business simulation, popular with the students that earned Texas Bank and Trust an Independent Bankers Association of Texas 2013 gold eagle award for excellence in financial literacy. Established in 1978, Texas Bank and Trust’s Student Board program is designed to introduce students to banking and money management at a critical point in their lives, in addition to providing them with essential economic building blocks related to earning, spending, saving, and investing money. Graduating seniors from 10 participating schools in Longview and Tyler were selected to serve on this year’s board.