BY MIKE JAMES
THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
RUSSELL Technology, design, presentation — those were the talents three teenage partners pooled to win a contest for entrepreneurs and bring home thousands of dollars in prize money.
One dreamed up the idea of shoes that would store the kinetic energy of walking into batteries.
One took the lead on designing a shoe that would incorporate the technology and be stylish and comfortable.
And one took major responsibility for crafting a presentation that would convince investors to put money behind the project.
Whether the partners, all Russell High School juniors, ever actually launch a line of battery-charging shoes is uncertain, but they have already reaped a financial reward for their innovation and incentive by winning the second-annual Glockner Dare to Dream Pitch Contest at Ohio University Southern.
Chloe Porter, Mackenzie Cole and Harlee Fuller will split $6,500 in top prize money from the contest.
They did it by pitching their business idea to a panel of judges, all hard-nosed business experts capable of sniffing out flaws in a business plan like bloodhounds tracking game.
And they were among about 15 similar teams from around the Tri-State area who had won earlier local competitions.
They say the experience was worth more than the money because they learned valuable business and life skills.
“When we heard we had won, all three of us were happy about the money, but we were happier about the adventure we had along the way,” said Porter, who is the science and technology expert of the three and who came up with the shoe idea.
The adventure involved working together, sharing ideas, listening and responding to constructive criticism and adapting their ideas to fit the marketplace — all essential qualities in the world of business and the workplace.
The idea for Go-Green Shoes sprang almost fully formed into Porter’s mind during a physics class late last year; the class discussion was on rotational energy and she wondered how that kind of energy could be harnessed by people in everyday activities.
“Whenever I get going on an idea, one idea leads to the next. I don’t tend to get discouraged. I stay upbeat by solving problems as they come,” she said.
Porter knew she needed more heads to flesh out her shoe idea and chose her parters for their skills and their personalities — the three are good friends.
“We worked great together. We’re like peanut butter and jelly,” Fuller said.
“They both brought their speaking and presenting skills and I think that’s what put us over the edge,” Porter said.
“You have to make it understandable to an audience,” said Cole. “If you have an idea, but it doesn’t present well, they won’t get it.”
Also important — convey a sense of excitement and personal belief in the product so your audience will leave feeling the same way, she said. “You have to transmit the excitement. We were prepared and enthusiastic,” she said.
Fuller, a self-described “shoe-crazy person,” took on the design role. “I know what is comfortable and versatile for lots of people,” she said.
“We wanted something stylish and comfortable that people could stand in all day.”
“This is an experience I will never forget as long as I live,” Fuller said. “Nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it.”
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Go-Green Shoes partners present their business idea at an earlier competition at Ashland Community Technical College.
Halee Fuller, Chloe Porter and Mackenzie Cole pose after the competition at ACTC.