A standing-room only crowd filled a classroom in the Boler Center Tuesday night. Parents, alumni, students and administration members all attended the launch of Saint Viator High School’s newest initiative: its incubator program.
Called INCubator.Edu, the year-long entrepreneurship class will help students conceptualize an idea for a product or service, and take it through development and its business plan, through marketing, financial budgeting and ultimately making a pitch to investors.
“It’s an exciting opportunity and new addition to our curriculum,” said Brian Liedlich, president. “This new class can help students develop critical thinking as well as important, marketable and valuable skills.”
Both he and Principal Karen Love described the new course as one that embodies the school’s vision statement, “Where innovation and tradition meet.” In fact, a mural with that tagline etched across the school’s logo graces the back wall of the classroom.
Fr. Charles Bolser, CSV, former president of the high school who now serves as chaplain, was on hand to bless the incubator. He professed to love the new venture, describing the class and its students as “our future.”
“Seize the day,” he said. “Dreams are our hope, our inspiration, our life.”
David Lyons, a first-year teacher who formerly taught entrepreneurship at York High School in Elmhurst, will be working with John Aiello ’86, who has reached out to the alumni base to serve as coaches and mentors.
Aiello is the former founder, CEO and chairman of SAVO, a cloud-based software company, who after selling his company now teaches entrepreneurship at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.
“The best innovation ideas do not come from a desire to make money,” Aiello said, “but from a desire to solve a problem.”
Students are brainstorming ideas right now and will begin streamlining the process next week. Soon after, they will divide into groups of four or five and be assigned a mentor, who will meet with them regularly to help advance their business concepts, while coaches will come into class regularly to teach their area of expertise.
Among the students on hand was Anna Haas, who came directly from her volleyball practice.
“I want to major in management in college,” Anna said. “This is a great opportunity to get some business experience before I get to college and just understand how things work.”
This is the first year of what administrators hope will be a successful collaboration between young entrepreneurs and their mentors and coaches.
“We’re definitely looking to grow the program,” Mr. Liedlich adds, “and would welcome any additional funding to help us accomplish this.”
Interested supporters should contact Tom Ramsden, director of institutional advancement, at TRamsden@saintviator.com.