Winter Sports School Student selected by Zurixx to pursue entrepreneurial idea
On June 22, one room in the Winter Sports School resembled the set of the TV show “Shark Tank.” Individuals and groups presented their business ideas to a panel of judges, who were willing to help fund the best idea. The difference was that the people pitching were students, and the amount on the table was a set $2,500.
The school’s pitch competition was held to mark the end of its entrepreneurship class, during which students came up with a business idea and researched how feasible it would be to turn it into a product or service. Leon McGuire won the competition with his built-in heating mechanism for ski boots. He was awarded $2,500 from Zurixx, which provides financial education programs to investors and entrepreneurs. The company partnered with the school to offer the class.
McGuire, a junior, came up with his idea while he was working at a ski shop at Snowbird last winter. After weeks of installing removable heaters into boots, which he said is extremely difficult to do, he decided that there had to be a better way. Plus, as a skier himself, he was eager to fix his own problems of having cold feet.
“Everyone deals with cold feet,” he said. “You can’t avoid it skiing.”
After giving it some thought, he figured that a heated foot bed in the sole of the boot would be lighter than the current products on the market. He toyed around with the idea, but did not pursue it until the entrepreneurship class began in April.
“As things progressed and we learned more through the class, I started to realize that I could actually do this,” he said.
He gained confidence throughout the semester, and was feeling good as the competition approached. When he started his pitch he was nervous, but started feeling like he had a chance at winning once he got talking.
Carter Brown, director of coaching for Zurixx, said that McGuire and several of the other students were impressive with their presentations and were “mature beyond their years.”
“They did an absolutely fantastic job,” he said. “Their ideas were very well thought-out, very well researched and, most importantly, were viable products in the marketplace.”
This was the first year that the Winter Sports School held the entrepreneurial class, and the first time that Zurixx brought its educational programs and coaches to a high school. Brown said that the teachers from Zurixx enjoyed working with students who were energized about their ideas. They taught students that there are alternative options for careers and that starting a business is a possibility.
McGuire said that the course encouraged him to pursue his business idea, and it also gave him the confidence that he could do it. He said he was happy and shocked that he won. Now, an idea that he thought would go nowhere has a chance of turning into a business. With the funds from Zurixx, he said that he is at least going to try.
McGuire plans to use the money for research and development of the product. He currently has a rough prototype and hopes to make as many products as he can this summer. His goal is to start selling them during the upcoming ski season.
He also has a few other ideas up his sleeve, such as a 3-D custom-printed ski boot shell, but he plans on pursuing one idea at a time so he can first master being a designer, electrical engineer, marketer and salesperson with his current product.
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Debate continues about schooling in a pandemic, as Park City students petition to stay in school, 78% of secondary teachers opt for remote, and case numbers remain low ahead of a feared post-Thanksgiving spike.