East teens advance to Maverick Challenge regionals

Three students from Columbus East High School are headed to a regional entrepreneurship competition with their pitch for on-the-go plant owners.

Over this past weekend, five finalist teams from Columbus East and North presented their business plans at the Maverick Challenge Bartholomew County Finals in the hopes of winning cash prizes through the competition. East students Sara Hockersmith, Sophia Myers and Morgon Olson came in first with their pitch, “Highway Hippie.” Tanya Iyer and Anushka Genge Patil of Columbus North came in second with “EcoLIVING.”

The Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors and coordinates the Maverick Challenge, announced the news in a release on Tuesday. The competition has 300 students from Bartholomew, Dearborn, Franklin, Jackson, Monroe and Scott counties participating. Finalists from each county will pitch for the overall prize at the Maverick Challenge Regional Finals, which will take place on Feb. 19 via Zoom.

The Highway Hippie team will represent Bartholomew County at regionals. According to the chamber’s release, the business allows plant lovers to “take their plants on the go with their thermodynamic container, water alert system, and custom decorations.”

The Maverick Challenge has awarded over $100,000 to participants throughout the region since its inception, said Chamber President Cindy Frey. The competition was designed to give students hands-on experience in entrepreneurship and business creation through pitch rounds and digital curriculum on “foundational business concepts.”

“Launched in 2008, the Maverick Challenge aims to further develop the innovative spirit of our region by reaching out to high school students and showing them viable career opportunities through entrepreneurship,” chamber officials said.

Local partners for the program include the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp., the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, IUPUC’s Business Department, the Southeastern Indiana Small Business Development Center and Velocities.