With the help of teachers, mentors and the local business community, students participating in the McLean County Unit 5 Innovative Entrepreneurs program got an inside look at the real world of being a business owner during their senior year of high school.

The young entrepreneurs were taken through education in design thinking and the lean startup processes while receiving assistance in the creation of their own startup.

What they learned was on display yesterday at the first ever Sweet Rewards Showcase. The impressive showcase of student innovation featured 24 students from Normal West and Normal Community high schools that presented 23 different startup business ideas they have been working on for the past school year.

Students shared their ideas, passed out samples of their products and exchanged business cards in a demo pit environment. The main event of the afternoon and the culmination of countless hours of preparation, was a pitch competition made up of 5 minute presentations to an audience of family, friends and panel of judges.

Julie Hinman, who served as instructor and the head business coach throughout the year proudly stated, “that there were no winners or losers to her.”

Top honors of the event would go to Chase O’Neal, the founder of Fallo, an app that helps you follow an individual’s various social media accounts all at once. IDeals, an online system pairing high schools and local businesses together to better market to students would receive the runner-up award.

Ms. Hinman indicated this was the first annual event and hopes that this program can continue to inspire future classes to pursue entrepreneurship in college and beyond.

Here are the participating student startups of the 2016 Innovative Entrepreneurs Sweet Rewards Showcase:

West Bloomington Active Garden | Colleen Connelly – a community garden to aid in solving the food desert issue.
Tag 309 | Micaela Harris -provides local businesses with simple, cost-effective and personal marketing services.
Stitch Me In | Hailey Wickenhauser – provides an online virtual fitting room experience.
Snow Daze | Sabrina Gomez – a 27/4 ice cream shop that also offers home delivery.
Skate Studio | Brennan Auth – skate shop that offers custom skate decks in store.
Size U | Taylor Barnard – an online sizing tool that allows consumers to convert their body measurements to more accurate retailer sizing charts.
Sandstorm | Ginny Gerig – indoor sand volleyball facility.
Refurbniture | Shannon Doherty – a service that repurposes and refinishes old furniture.
Math Mentor | Alex Hopper – online math tutoring tool.
Let’s Get Movieng | Virginia Dinges – a mobile movie theater and food truck concept.
Locomotive Learning | Whitney Irmeger – an interactive tutoring business with physical exercise component.
Locker Lunch-in | Allyah Evans – a lunchbox that keeps your lunch at appropriate temperatures.
Charge Me Up | Mitch Fairfield – a rechargeable laptop case.
Iottaa | Shubhang Desai – a creative project management web-based tool.
IDeals | Nick Showalter & Tyler Smith – business marketing solutions targeted to high school students.
Ice Shield | Jack Polus – windshield cover to prevent precipitation form forming and freezing.
GoGo Grocery Delivery | Jeff Gourley – a grocery delivery service.
GameDay Arrival | Brandon Sullivan – an all-inclusive sporting event booking agency.
Fallo | Chase O’Neal – an app to connect you to all social media accounts of an individual.
Donut Hut | Blake Lukert – a donut vending machine.
Cord Keeper | Marcia Rolofson – a beeswax solution designed to keep pets away from electrical cords and wires.
All For One Catholic Ministries | Radiance Campbell – written resources for religious education.
Athletic Edge | Drake Bertrand – specialized fitness training for football players.

For more information on the Innovative Entrepreneurs program, visit their website u5ie.org and also like on Facebook, connect on Twitter and follow on Instagram.