It took Alex Arreguin a four-minute pitch to convince an investor to fund his motorized scooter business. He’s 16.
The Windsor High School junior is the CEO of AA Torque Systems, one of 20 student teams that participated in a school version of the ABC reality show “Shark Tank” at the high school this week.
Creating motorized skateboards started out as a hobby in Arreguin’s garage.
The boards, outfitted with lithium ion batteries, a motor, belts and pulleys, are controlled with a handheld speed controller. Arreguin claims they can go up to 36 miles per hour and have a 15-mile range, depending on rider weight.
“There’s no one else that sells these for $700, so I thought, why can’t I make this successful?” he said.
The student “Shark Tank” is a play on the actual TV show, which asks entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas to would-be investors.
In the Windsor High School version, 20 teams were selected from an original roster of 45, and over the course of two days, they got to pitch their ideas to a panel of four local investors.
The idea is the brainchild of David Hamelburg, the founder of Boomerang Plus, a Windsor-based nonprofit that teaches students business skills through internships, a screen-printing shop and programs like the student “Shark Tank.”
This is the second “Shark Tank” Hamelburg has put on. The first was last spring at Petaluma Community Center, and 13 teams from Casa Grande High School participated.
The competition at Windsor High School was a full production, with three sections of the school coming together to create it — business arts, culinary arts and media arts.
The culinary arts kids catered lunch — soup and salad, created with ingredients donated by Guy Fieri. The business arts kids pitched their ideas. And the media arts kids filmed the whole thing. The final cuts will be posted to the high school’s YouTube channel, and should be online in a few days, teacher Paul Kinunen said.
Flanked by his marketing director, Colin Hoard, 17, and his safety director, Wutthiphong Chaturaksamai, 18, Arreguin’s pitch won him a $1,000 investment from Hamelburg, which will largely pay for his company to create three boards at a cost of $410 per board.
The company is in talks with three local skate shops about selling them and hopes to get them in stores before the holidays, Arreguin said. They will retail at $700 per board, or $600 if someone provides their own skate deck. Hamelburg will make about $225 per board until he doubles his seed money, making $2,000 total.
“When you see someone riding on an electric skateboard, you can’t help but naturally turn your head,” Arreguin said.
Anna Koval, a teacher coach for the Sonoma County Office of Education, was there, too, filming the whole process.
She works to help career technical education teachers put on programs like this for their students, and gets them to collaborate with core teachers.
“There’s close to 100 kids participating in this activity,” Koval said. “They’re not sitting in rows, in desks with their heads down, hoodies on and their ear buds in. They’re actually engaged. You see their smiles. You see the light in their eye. School doesn’t suck for them. And that’s the beauty of career technical education. That’s what this is an application of.”
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