Launch!

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“I’m not blowing smoke… I loved every minute of this thing and think it was deployed so well.”

– Seth Heinert, Ogallala High School

What is Launch?

Launch! is a year-long program that takes high school students and teachers through the entrepreneurial process from no idea or plans to the creation of a valuable, sustainable business that solves a real-world problem for real-world customers.

Launch! began in Spring 2018 as a partnership between Engler, the Nebraska FFA Organization and the Nebraska FFA Foundation. It is now used in over 15 schools from Omaha to Ravenna to bring dynamic, relevant entrepreneurship education to the classroom.

Nothing about Engler follows today’s typical education model, and Launch! is no different. We don’t teach to the test, give out answers or expect rote memorization of theories and principles. Engler learning requires getting your hands dirty. It means trying and failing—failing spectacularly and repeatedly—but always pushing forward.

“Launch provided our team with the framework and tools to build a successful school-based business. Brennan was an excellent facilitator who provided information but let the team make their own decisions, experience their own successes and work through their failures.

– Ann Dvorak, Rock County High School

Successful Launch! Businesses

Concrete Unlimited

Concrete Unlimited

Concrete. It’s inexpensive, easily accessible, and for four students from Blue High School, it was the beginning of an entrepreneurial journey. It all began in Spring 2018 at an FFA training day in Kearney. A few of the students were initially hesitant to spend the...

On-the-Go Gelato

On-the-Go Gelato

On the Go Gelato is leaving a sweet legacy. Three years ago, four Rock County FFA students started the gelato business through the Launch! Program with the guidance of their advisor, Ann Dvorak. The original four members are now seniors and will graduate in May,...

The Watering Can

The Watering Can

In Spring 2019, the FFA students at York High School recognized a problem and created a solution: many customers at the annual plant sale at the York FFA Greenhouse did not have the time, energy, or physical ability to water their plants. The students decided to take...

Launch teaches students and teacher teams to create a school-based enterprise, which means students learn how to start a business while under the umbrella of their high school—its supervision, finances and so on. Engler staff members guide teachers each step of the way, from fostering the entrepreneurial mindset to navigating communication with school administration.

To participate in Launch, Career and Technical Student Organizations must apply and be accepted to the program. Once accepted, the year-long program has four or five in-person meetings, two pitch competitions and a series of video coaching calls.

Launch is not a mere checklist item for a teacher’s to-do list, nor is it a mindless assignment for students. Like a true partnership, a teacher and his or her students must work together on a team to build their own business. 

In one year, Launch takes high school students and their teachers from a blank sheet to launching a business, which should grow and become sustainable throughout the year. During that time, the students get as close as possible to a real-world experience of what it’s like to actually start a business.

At the conclusion of the program, students pitch their business and what they’ve learned to judges at a statewide convention and compete with other schools. Funding may be available to seed businesses both at the beginning and the end of Launch.

Launch teaches students and teacher teams to create a school-based enterprise, which means students learn how to start a business while under the umbrella of their high school—its supervision, finances and so on. Engler staff members guide teachers each step of the way, from fostering the entrepreneurial mindset to navigating communication with school administration.

To participate in Launch, Career and Technical Student Organizations must apply and be accepted to the program. Once accepted, the year-long program has four or five in-person meetings, two pitch competitions and a series of video coaching calls.

Launch is not a mere checklist item for a teacher’s to-do list, nor is it a mindless assignment for students. Like a true partnership, a teacher and his or her students must work together on a team to build their own business. 

In one year, Launch takes high school students and their teachers from a blank sheet to launching a business, which should grow and become sustainable throughout the year. During that time, the students get as close as possible to a real-world experience of what it’s like to actually start a business.

At the conclusion of the program, students pitch their business and what they’ve learned to judges at a statewide convention and compete with other schools. Funding may be available to seed businesses both at the beginning and the end of Launch.

Who can participate?

Launch is available to all middle and high-schools. We specialize connections with Career and Technical Student Organizations (such as FFA, DECA, FBLA, FCCLA, etc.), but it’s not required. 

If you are a teacher or student interested in bringing Launch to your high school, contact Engler Director Tom Field or call (402) 472-5643.

“Launch was valuable to us because it provided a curriculum that students could use to actually plan out their business. It kept them accountable all year for progress and helped them set goals for their business. ”

– Melissa Bonifas, Blue Hill High School

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