Students learn from local entrepreneurs
Henley High School students learned what it takes to start a business in the real world when they toured downtown coffees shops, outdoor stores and restaurants.
“It’s really important kids understand the value of local business,” said Henley business teacher Luke Ovgard. “They see just how much goes into building and developing a local business. And I think it gives them a little more appreciation for that latte they grab down the street.” About 50 students spent the day touring downtown, learning from business owners. Then they presented business and product plans to panels of judges.
Mike Angeli, who presented to students at his outdoor store, The Ledge, and judged presentations, said he believes an experience like this can change a young person’s perspective.
“Now and for the rest of their lives they’re going to look at things differently when it comes to buying, purchasing and becoming business people,” Angeli said. “They’re going to approach it with a different concept than the average person would. They can’t go back now.”
The students toured and presented in two 25-student groups. They visited: The Ledge Outdoor Store, Klamath Basin Sports, A Leap of Taste, The Daily Bagel, Rodeos Pizza & Saladeria, Gathering Grounds Café & Roastery and Gaucho Collective.
“It’s been a pretty good experience. It’s neat seeing all the different environments and how everybody works their business,” said Payton Bustos, 17, a Henley senior. “It’s cool going around and seeing it.”
“It’s been very helpful,” agreed Meriah Nelson, 16, a Henley junior. “If I were to open my own business I would know the steps I need to take, the problems that I might face and the outcomes that might happen.”
Some students learned about businesses they didn’t know existed downtown.
“I didn’t know there were so many coffee shops here,” said Jasmyne Baylie, 15, a freshman business student who is also in DECA.
“It’s really cool,” said Cameron Simpson, also a freshman in DECA. “They’re all different. There’s a lot of competition.”
Others were surprised by the ways some Klamath businesses are ahead of the game.
“The Ledge, they were the eighth people to sell Hydro Flasks in all the United States,” said Gwyneth Cheyne, 15, a freshman in DECA. “I’ve learned a whole bunch of stuff about how to market, where things were sold first, and how to survive in the business world.”
Students put those lessons to work in giving their business proposals to a panel of judges. They presented PowerPoint presentations and judges gave feedback, similar to the show Shark Tank.
“It’s really good exposure for them. The presentation skills, to have to think through what a product offering would be, and how to present that to a group of potential investors,” said Jake Wampler, an insurance agent with Farmers Insurance. “It’s been really fun for me so far. It’s neat to see what they bring to the table. What ideas they have.”
“I like the idea that they are researching being entrepreneurs and business owners, as opposed to just going into the workforce and working for somebody,” said Angela Suty, owner of Ezell-Suty Fuel. “To be their own boss, take that to another level.”
The program of touring businesses and presenting proposals was developed last school year by Sergio Cisneros, business teacher at Mazama. It is spreading throughout the Klamath County School District for all Introduction to Business classes.
Press release and photography by Samantha Tipler, Klamath County School District