BoxU Team Ready for the Next Challenge
Team members are (pictured left to right) Jacob McEvoy, Jan Kubata, Josca Schabacker, and Finn Casey.
A year after winning last year’s Pitch Night 2020 Foundation Cup — which signifies the business judged most viable — members of the BoxU team are getting ready to head to college, having “grown and accomplished more than we ever thought possible when we arrived at the Business Incubator class.”
Team members and friends Finn Casey, Jan Kubata, Jacob McEvoy, and Josca Schabacker aren’t quite sure if their futures will be in the startup world they’ve been immersed in for two years. But their business, a subscription-based hygiene care package service for college students away from home (as well as a version for families in need), has them all thinking about business.
“We have learned so much about creating our own business, have gained a strong interest in business, and have grown and accomplished more than we ever thought possible when we arrived at the Business Incubator class as juniors last year,” Jacob said on behalf of the team.
“It’s just been a lot of fun working with these guys for the last two years,” Jacob said.
Over that time, team members grew closer, learned each others’ strengths, and discovered that “we’re not afraid to push each other, even though we all are friends,” said Josca.
The team credits encouragement from business education teacher (and basketball coach) Phil LaScala, with whom they studied last year, and their senior year teacher, Joseph Pulio. Mentor John F. Johnson, a retired business executive who is a board member and vice president at the Ralph J. Smith Foundation, was able to assist the team, meeting with them outside of school hours and giving them ideas and guidance, Jan said. The team, Finn said, wants to thank both teachers and Johnson, as well as the LFHS Foundation. “If it weren’t for all of them,” he said, “we wouldn’t be having all the fun we are having now with BoxU.”
COVID-19 made things a bit bumpy for the Business Incubator teams. The BoxU team had to do all of its work remotely, with Zoom meetings each day, Finn said. But there was also a silver lining. “It freed up more time for us all because suddenly the whole world was on pause,” Josca said.
Their 2020 Pitch had to be done remotely, with each student in his own house. Editing wasn’t easy, said Josca, as “none of us are film majors so we’re not the greatest editors.” But as Jan said his father predicted while watching the Pitch Night livestream, BoxU was chosen as the most viable project. In addition to the Foundation Cup, the team won $3,000 in prize funding and $300 in additional donations and pledges.
As senior year was ending, Finn said, “Ideally, we would like to keep selling. We’re all going off to different parts of the country or even across the Atlantic so we really don’t know what is going to happen.”
But, he said, the team was continuing to explore new options in the weeks before leaving for university.
Outside of classes and BoxU responsibilities, team members were active in a variety of activities at LFHS. Finn was on the track and field team and in the Investment Club; Jan was on a traveling hockey team; Jacob was the captain for the varsity soccer team and also played tennis; Josca played varsity basketball and soccer and is involved with Green Minds of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff.
And, team members said, BoxU, was one of the biggest achievements of their high school careers, and something that, Finn said, “really opened their eyes.”
Getting to Know the BoxU Team
Finn Casey, who is planning to attend the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, said he always wanted to be an inventor, along the lines of Benjamin Franklin. He liked the show “Shark Tank,” which he thought was “a nice mix of inventing things and marketing products.” When he heard about the Incubator class, he knew he had to take it, he said. “I am planning on majoring in mechanical engineering. I know that’s not business, but with this class I’ve learned that business is about putting yourself out there and talking to people. I may have a future in business.”
When Jan Kubata was 5, and living in the Czech Republic, his father started a business. Watching his dad drive off early each morning to work sparked his interest in the same career path. But Jan hadn’t taken business classes at LFHS until Mr. LaScala walked into his sophomore study hall and described the Incubator class. After that study hall, he said, ran to find his counselor to enroll. He is planning to attend university in Prague, where he will study business or economics.
Jacob McEvoy, whose dad is a businessman and whose older brother is studying business at university, always thought he would study business in college. The Incubator solidified that. “It’s been a really valuable experience for deciding what I want to do in the future,” said Jacob, who will attend the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Josca Schabacker, who is heading to High Point University in North Carolina, had wanted to study psychology but “because of the Incubator program I really started to like business more and more,” he said, and so will double major in psychology and business administration. The LFHS Incubator program, he said, “has opened new doors for me and it’s taught me some really valuable life skills like being able to talk to people and getting out of my comfort zone, doing things that make us uncomfortable but make us a better person.” “This is,” Jacob added, “just such a great class to take.”