‘We create seekers and peekers’: Local High School ‘Shark Tank’ competitions sweeping Indiana

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NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — For fans of the show "Shark Tank," here is a story that may pique some interest. One local foundation is bringing the concept to the high school level for kids across central Indiana.

The STARTupED Foundation is holding monthly pitching competitions with the winners taking home $500 to help fund their idea or company. The format changes each month. For March, students pitch their ideas in a similar fashion to the hit show, while next month a local company will come in with a problem, and the students will pitch their solutions.

“We create seekers and peekers, not moaners and groaners," STARTupED Foundation President Don Wettrick said. "Moaners and groaners are on social media right now complaining that the world is terrible, seekers are seeking opportunity to do something about it. You’re going to see everything tonight from a board game to drone classes.”

The most recent competition was in Noblesville, and some of the kids have amazing ideas. Westfield's John Warns uses a 3-D printer to make gears for cars, and several big motor companies are already interested.

“I feel like there are tons of kids my age that have great ideas but have no way to express them," Warns said.

Courtney Penwell is from Noblesville. She is writing a book about her trauma as a child, and how she overcame it. She didn't pitch while we were there but used the night as a learning experience, so she can pitch to publishers.

"Thirty-second pitches I know, those really quick, really fast, I want to go on from that," Penwell said.

Other entrepreneurs around the country are catching wind of the program, and want in. It will be coming to Muncie, Franklin, Richmond and Terre Haute. The foundation is also working to take it to other cities such as San Antonio, Phoenix, and Milwaukee.

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