Creating a backpack storage container for students traveling on buses earned four Southwest Middle School fifth graders statewide recognition earlier this year.
Dylan Cortes, Will Fuert, Hunter Thompson and Colten Pratt are also set to be honored at Searcy’s school board meeting this month for their efforts in the Young Entrepreneurship Showcase Business Ready competition.
“Every year, my fifth grade students enter the YES Business Ready contest,” said Katie Lawson, a gifted and talented facilitator at the school. “It’s through Arkansas Capital Corp. … So students research everyday problems, and then they work to invent products or create services to solve those everyday problems.”
As they reflected on some of the issues they faced, Lawson said a few students who took a bus to and from school realized it was a problem they didn’t have to deal with. place to store their backpacks on the bus because the seats were getting cramped. They decided it would be a good idea to invent a storage container for backpacks, she said.
“The team worked together,” Lawson said. “One of them had a contact who is a welder, so they took measurements under the seat of the bus, took it to the welder and then worked with him to invent the storage container.”
They also had to come up with a product logo, marketing plan, website and “they sell” stickers for their bogus business proposition, she said. “They had to calculate all the financial elements to know how much it really cost to manufacture the product. They pay the welder $10, so they know the cost of the materials and they decide on a price from there and mark it up until they make a profit.
“Their product name is Bussin Basket. For their retail stand, the students had to create a banner. They also designed t-shirts.
Lawson said their marketing plan was to send out flyers to schools across the country and to bus companies, and then they would follow up by email. “They thought they could set up a booth at bus conventions so they could market their product there as well.”
Lawson said there were 143 business plan submissions from 31 schools across the state. The Southwest Middle School group’s proposal for Bussin Basket was chosen as one of the top 25 to compete at the state level in January.
“They competed virtually,” she said. “There are four categories in which they are judged: Best Marketing Element, Best Retail Booth, Best Business Plan and Most Innovative. Our team placed fourth in the best business plan.
Dylan Cortes said his involvement in the project “really helped me know that I’m capable of doing more than I thought I could”. He said the group plans to compete “again in the competition next year”.
Hunter Thompson said he wanted to own his own restaurant one day and “learned that starting a business is harder than I thought”.
Will Fuert added that he “learned that business owners have a lot to think about. I am grateful that we had the opportunity to do so.
Colten Pratt said the band “almost gave up on the idea because we didn’t know how we were going to make it all work”.
“I mean, ‘Never give up,'” Colten added. … “We are happy now that we left it at that.”
The business plan submitted by the students included the headings Problem, Solution, Customers, Product Details, Marketing, Innovation, a Statement of Results and a Statement of Funds Needed.
Under the title of the problem, the students mentioned that they were crushed in their bus seats because of the backpacks taking up so much space. They said they couldn’t just put their backpacks on the floor of the bus because then they would slide off the back of the bus. They mentioned that if the backpacks were accidentally left open, their stuff could also fall out and get lost. Holding the backpacks would become tiring and also hurt their arms.
They conducted a survey of 71 students and found that 58% said they had the problem of not having a good place to store their backpacks on the bus.
Under solution, the students wrote about their brand new product called Bussin Basket, which they wrote “is a metal box that is bolted to the floor under the seat of the bus and keeps backpacks in place while the bus is moving “.
“With a Bussin basket bolted under each bus seat, a built-in case is ready and waiting to hold any lost items until the owner returns for the next bus ride,” they wrote.
Students said Colten had this problem every day, so they knew Bussin Basket was a great idea. Of the 71 respondents, 54% said they would buy the Bussin Basket because they are too cramped on the bus.
The group said it excludes cardboard, laundry baskets and metal baskets like those under their desks. Dylan was the band member who had a family friend who welds and so he was called in for ideas and to find out what exact materials they would need “to bring the Bussin Basket to life”.
The target customers the students had in mind for the product were bus owners, bus companies and schools. They said bus drivers would like it too because bus riders wouldn’t complain so much. At a Southwest Middle School Shark Tank event, students pitched the product to school leaders and others who thought it was a great idea and would provide a more comfortable ride for their students. The transport department was also asked for their opinion and also liked the idea of the buses.
In the product details section, the students said they would need sheet metal and bolts. A fabricator was hired to weld sheet metal for them. The students drove to the Searcy School District bus shop and took measurements under the seat, then met the welder, who cut the sheets to size and welded them together. They decided that the welder would be paid $10 for each product produced.
The hosts of the school’s “Shark Tank” event suggested that students customize the Bussin basket for different school districts and businesses by adding the district mascot or company logo.
As for marketing, the students said that $75 would be the cost of each Bussin basket. They said the price was determined after reviewing their expenses. The cost of materials was $21 in addition to the welder’s $10 for each product produced. There might be shipping charges, so they had to mark the product enough to make a profit.
In addition to a website and going to conventions, the students said they had business cards that would be mailed to bus companies and schools and that they would call potential buyers to follow up with them. They would also embrace the use of social media such as Facebook and create an advertisement to show how their product works which would be emailed to businesses and schools and would also be posted on their own website and media sites. social.
When it comes to innovation, the students said that Bussin Basket is something “brand new to the market”. They talked about doing research online and talking to bus drivers and there was nothing quite like their product designed to hold backpacks on the bus. “We also checked the United States Patent and Trademark Office and found no products similar to the Bussin Basket,” they said.
The income statement portion showed that the students planned to sell 40 Bussin Baskets in 30 days, so their sales would be $3,000. Expenses would include materials, labor, booth rental, and business cards. They wrote that they plan to do one expo per month to market the product and their booth rental cost is $100. They need 100 business cards, so at 15 cents each, “we’ll pay $15. We will pay $200 each month for the repayment of our loan until it is paid off.
The students said the welder used his own equipment and they used their own computers and internet services to design the business cards and website, as well as email and post on social media to reduce expenses. They calculated that their total expenses for the month were $1,555 and that their sales revenue minus their expenses would leave them with a profit of $1,445. “We will reinvest profits in the Bussin Basket business until the loan is repaid and there is enough profit to sustain us,” the students wrote.
In the statement of funds needed, the students said they would need $7,000 to start the business and that they planned to take out a loan from the bank and “will pay $200 each month until that the loan be repaid.