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Launch! School Based Enterprises Showcase Growth at Final Pitch

The Launch! Final Pitch took place on Friday, April 5 at the 96th Nebraska FFA Convention. Students from four different schools spent the school year developing their Launch! projects and businesses.

McCool Junction’s “Blue River Freeze Dried Treats,” Blair’s “Bear Brew,” Plainview’s “Pirate Treasure,” and Thayer Central’s “TC Freezers” presented their pitches for the businesses they had created to a panel of four judges.

After much consideration, the judges named the Blair FFA chapter first place for their presentation. Members on the team included Ryan Blattert, Mac Tupa, Sommer Schultz, and Andrew Korth.

The Blair FFA chapter recognized a need at their school: Students often rushed to class before school, and many needed to ride the bus instead of their own car. Additionally, there was nowhere on campus to buy drinks that students wanted in the morning, such as coffee or energy drinks. They also noticed that when students did have drinks in the morning, they were overpriced and unhealthy. So, they came up with the idea of “Bear Brew,” a healthier, more affordable drink for students the moment they enter the school building.

This business, ran from the concession stand in their school on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, started with coffee and smoothies. They have expanded their business to flavored lemonade and donuts, as well. An original pitch in November to judges paid for their espresso machines and blenders, and they are seeking to expand their business by adding a lemonade dispenser and additional espresso machines and blenders.

Opening this business was a risk and reward process for the students, according to member of the team Rylan Blattert. Yet, it went over as a success and gained popularity every day among students at Blair High School.

“The best part is being able to walk through the hallways and see kids carrying our cups,” one team member told the judge’s panel.

The team has big ideas for the future, and with the growth of their business in the five months it has been open, the future is coming fast for Blair Brew.

“Eventually, we want to move to a trailer. We’d be able to bring it to football games, track meets, and events around town.” Blattert said. “I think our community is very supportive of things like that, and it’s our ultimate goal for a few years down the road.”

When considering the amount to reward participants at the Launch! program, judges consider the amount the team asks for. They also consider whether this money will help make the business successful.

“A lot of these businesses, when they started, were just an idea. Then they received the initial funding from the Nebraska FFA Foundation and were able to actually start their business,” Judge Audrey Schipporeit remarks. “It was really fun to see how they have started and what they have done so far.”