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DCE Junior High Students Secure Business Loan with Strong Entrepreneurial Pitch

Recently, about a dozen students from the D.C. Everest Junior High College and Career Readiness Class met with representatives from Abby Bank to showcase the success of their fledgling Happy Snacks business in an effort to secure a business loan that would help assist them in continuing the development of their enterprise. Each student took part in the business pitch, settled around a table that was bedecked with samples of their Happy Snacks — fresh popcorn and a custom-made snack mix. 

This meeting was the latest in a long string of events that led to the successful establishment of Happy Snacks. Jim Dahlgren, business and IT instructor, notes that the College and Career Readiness Class is designed specifically to help students with intellectual disabilities gain crucial real world skills and discover career opportunities that interest them. “The students are very motivated — not only do they work at Trig’s every Wednesday and Friday during their class period, they’ve now established a successful enterprise that fills a much-needed gap: healthy and inexpensive snacks for students.” The students are assisted by a crew of DCE teachers and staff: Landon Bittner, Amanda Buege, Lynnette Morien, Kari Nuszkiewicz, Josh Schuch and Lisa Wistrom.

Before the enterprise was started, the students held brainstorming sessions, established a budget, researched sanitation guidelines and surveyed students to settle on the name of the business. With everything in place, they then had to pitch the business to Principal McFarlane.

With his approval in hand, the students launched their business — selling the snacks to students, staff and teachers. This stage was a crucial step in securing the market research they needed to prepare for their pitch and answer the questions of Abby Bank representatives concerning costs, sales and profit projections and investment potential.

After the students presented their business pitch to Tracy Engman, Philip Pesanka and Garrent Kornman, the Abby Bank representatives asked a number of questions concerning the financials of the organization, its day-to-day handling and projections for the future. The students run every aspect of the business: purchasing materials, popping the popcorn, creating the snack mix, bagging, taking orders, delivery and accounting. They also are in charge of marketing — creating posters, securing advertising on the TVs in the building, emailing staff and teachers, creating pamphlets and social media posts, and creating ads for morning announcements.

After ably handling the questions, the students were pleased to hear Mr. Pesanka announce that Abby Bank would proudly lend them $300 for their enterprise.

The next step for Happy Snacks? A trial offering of beef sticks to examine whether a menu expansion is feasible.


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