Lakeland High School student win business competition

March 27th, 2017

Judges pick pedal cab idea

By Patrick Redmond | KPC News - The News Sun

A trio of Lakeland High School seniors with plans to launch a pedal cab business in Shipshewana this summer were named the winners of the second annual Launch LaGrange County competition Thursday night at the Farmstead Inn & Conference Center in Shipshewana.

Launch LaGrange County is a “Shark Tank”-style competition aimed at developing student entrepreneurs at all four county high schools.

The winners, Isaiah Lehman, Erik Mellinger and Josh Grogg, have created Shipshewana PediCabs, a business that will operate pedal cabs in Shipshewana this summer. The group made a splash at the Launch competition when the three students rode into the room in one of their pedal cabs to kick off their presentation.

For their efforts, they won a $5,000 grant from the LaGrange County Economic Development Corp. to help defray the cost of launching their business. It was the second year in a row a student from Lakeland won the competition.

After the contest, several of the panel of seven judges tasked with selecting a winner said it was the PediCabs’ real-world business planning and ready-to-launch business model that won them over.

Lehman said he was inspired to create Shipshewana PediCabs after seeing a similar business in North Carolina.

“I thought, ‘Wow, I want to put that in Shipshewana,” Lehman said. “It would be a great convenience for everyone going to the flea market or anywhere in downtown Shipshewana.”

Launch LaGrange County is a business-based competition for high school students created by the LaGrange County EDC, the LaGrange County Chamber of Commerce and the LaGrange County Community Foundation.

Its purpose is to inspire a new generation of local entrepreneurs by allowing them to test their business ideas in a friendly competition against other high school students.

Students from all four LaGrange County high schools entered nine different proposals in this year’s contest. Their ideas included a product that helps farmers survey their fields, a device to help people put on sterile gloves more quickly and without hassle, a portable java barista and a heating pad that encircles the body.

The top three finishers in the contest won startup grants from the LaGrange County EDC. Students also were competing for a variety of educational stipends and scholarships offered by area colleges and universities.

Indiana Tech offered the winners a $12,000-a-year scholarship if they attend the school. Goshen College made the students a similar offer, awarding the members of the contest’s top three teams $12,000 renewable scholarships. It also offered $7,000 scholarships to each student who competed in Thursday’s competition.

The University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne offered each member of the winning team a $10,000 renewable scholarship, and Ivy Tech Community College Northeast offered each member of the winning team a $3,000 scholarship.