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North Fork student-entrepreneurs build businesses from the ground up in new classes offered at local high schools

Students from Mattituck's Virtual Enterprise class present their company, Body Kinetics, at a regional trade show. Courtesy photo.

When it comes to learning a trade, there’s no better way than to learn by doing.

This year, some North Fork high school students are getting a hands-on feel for the business world through a new class called Virtual Enterprise.

The class, offered at both Mattituck and Southold high schools, teaches kids how to manage a business at every level through their creation of a fictional business, which the students then present to investors at a trade show, much like ABC’s Shark Tank.

“You get to learn how to appeal to investors, how to say the right words and present yourself,” said Benjamin Savercool, a Mattituck High School senior who acts as chief executive officer of his class’s fictional company.

Created and run entirely by the 19 students in Mattituck’s Virtual Enterprise Class, Body Kinetics manufactures fitness products that can transform the energy created by its users’ movements into electricity.

“Our customers are able to power personal and household electronics while improving their health,” Savercool said.

Students split into four departments (human resources, finance, marketing and technology) to work year-round on developing their business. The students create a company business plan, employee manual, company brochure, flyer, catalog, web page and commercial ad to submit to a regional trade show, which was held this year in Farmingdale on Jan. 15.

Savercool was joined by five other students – Ben Herbert, Samantha Smilovich, Julie Krudop, Jeff Avila Ramos and Garrett Malave – to present their 20-page business plan to a group of “investors” comprised of other students participating in the trade show.

“It was a lot easier than last year because we had more time to prepare and knew what to expect,” Savercool said. “When you’re presenting to investors, it’s really important to know your business inside and out.”

Savercool, like many other students in the class, plans to major in business when he graduates from Mattituck.

Mattituck, now in it’s second year of the program, took home first place for its employee manual. One of the students, Jeff Avila Ramos, was offered a Virtual Enterprise International scholarship.

Nine students comprise Southold’s Virtual Enterprise class. Courtesy photo.
Nine students comprise Southold’s Virtual Enterprise class. Courtesy photo.

This was Southold’s first year with a Virtual Enterprise firm.

“Mattituck has been extremely helpful in us getting started with the adventure,” Southold business teacher Kathy Williams said.

Williams’ students chose to create a company called Advanced Performance Athletics, which distributes Adidas bluetooth technology athletic equipment. Southold’s pilot program is smaller than Mattituck’s with only nine students, but they didn’t let that stop them from creating a winning company, taking first place in creativity and favorite apparel and third place in employee manual.

Students Ethan Sisson, Raeann Berry, Billy Bucci, Jackie Davey, Walker Sutton and Mike Dolan presented for Southold.

Both groups will travel to Manhattan in April to participate in the Virtual Enterprise International Trade Show competition, where more than 2,000 students from around the world will be selling their fictional products. In addition to the above categories, students will be competing for best web page, best commercial, best catalog, best sales pitch and highest sales.