Top pitch: WHS seniors’ baseball-sized computer device wins Shark Tank pitch competition


Westfield High School senior Jacob Mills wanted to develop a device to make interaction with computers easier than using a joystick or a mouse.

So, he helped create the Orbiter, which is designed to allow digital objects to be held and manipulated, much like sci-fi holograms in movies. Mills said the Orbiter makes movement easier in CAD, or computer-aided design, CGI, or computer-generated imagery, and makes digital sculpting efficient.

Mills’ and senior Max Amenta’s presentation was voted by Westfield Chamber of Commerce attendees as the winner of the three pitches made at the Shark Tank competition held March 18 at the Bridgewater Club. Mills and Amenta earned $1,000 for their prototype. WKRP Indy provided the funds for the winner.

Amenta, a DECA member, provided the business acumen and marketing expertise for the duo’s presentation. DECA is a nonprofit student program that prepares high school and college students as emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management.

“It’s a baseball-sized device that gives you more degrees of freedom and movement for 3-D programs,” Mills said. “It then uses it as input for our computer so you can have direct control over what you are working on. It gives you far more control over what you are working on compared to a mouse or joystick.”

Amenta said the revenue model is a transactional revenue, where the money exchange is of cash or credit in exchange for goods and services.

“For our growth, we plan to make updates to the model to bring back old customers and keep updating the product,” Amena said. “For our projected material costs, we estimate that it will cost $25 to make this, and we plan to sell it for $100. Our production costs will start high and our market size will start low. Then, as it grows and production costs go down, we’ll end up making more revenue.

“For marketing, we are going to have in-person demonstrations and show how our product can help them and make their business go smoother. There will be online demonstrations through emails and videos to show them how they can better their business.”

Mills, who will study mechanical engineering at University of Southern Indiana, said the first thing the project team has to do is get a patent on the Orbiter.

“We don’t want to lose our product and all the work we put into it,” Mills said.

Addy Famuyiwa assists the team with coding.

Mills said the team has worked on the project for approximately three months.

The team also entered the Innovate Within competition, which offers a bigger prize.

“We submitted videos and will find out if we move on soon,” said Amenta, who plans to major in business at Indiana University.

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Westfield High School teachers John Moore and Joel Bruns speak at the annual Shark Tank competition at the March 18 Westfield Chamber of Commerce.

WHS teacher John Moore works with the new Shark Tank Club.

“We are looking to grow the club,” Moore said. “If we get more people in the school more frequently, we’ll see our numbers go up. We want to connect with business owners in Westfield and get them in schools and mentor our students. We have a state-of-the-art innovation center, the Idea Farm.”

Moore teaches all the entrepreneurship classes and introduction to business.

“I’m so happy with how they did,” Moore said. “It’s surprising all the talent we have in Westfield and all they are doing.”

Joel Bruns, who teaches innovation by design, runs the innovation program. He also runs the Idea Farm, a makerspace filled with high-tech tools.

“Students are free to come into this space and use these tools to build actual physical products,” Bruns said. “We do everything from sewing to electronics to technology projects. It gives students the opportunity to discover things they are passionate about.”

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Max Amenta and Jacob Mills hold a replica check signifying the $1,000 they won in the Shark Tank competition at Westfield Chamber of Commerce. (Photos by Mark Ambrogi)

Pitching apps

Senior Zach Watson and the team of juniors Kyle Emgenbroich and Sam Huser also competed for the $1,000 prize at the Shark Tank event.

Watson’s app, called SchoolCore, was developed through his work with the Coder Dojo club and innovation design teacher Joel Bruns.

“We looked at problems within our school building,” Bruns said. “We have a lot of educational technology, which obviously within the last year we’ve utilized more and more. A lot of it had to do with the non-educational technology, things like communication and calendaring.”

Watson describes the app as a hub for non-academic school functions. The idea is to have it be subscription-based to a school or school district.

Emgenbroich, who was handling the business end as chief operating officer for his team, said the mission of the app, Pikit, is to help people choose a restaurant.

“I like to say 50 percent of marriages end in divorce because of a problem like this,” Emgenbroich joked.

Emgenbroich is the vice president of marketing for Indiana DECA.

“Sam is the computer whiz and founder,” Emgenbroich said. “I was able to come along for the experience. Sam is very good at computer science and coding.”

Emgenbroich said the app is fully developed on the Google and Android system and is in development on Apple.

“It compiles lists of restaurants you want to eat at, and like Tinder, you swipe left or swipe right, depending on what restaurant you want to eat at,” Emgenbroich said.