Julien Brown is going it alone with a computer tech business – Apex Computers he has launched through the Hononegah High School INCubator program. The program started three years ago and has been successful in giving students the opportunity to learn all aspects of starting a small business.

By Jean Seegers
The Entrepreneurial INCubator Program at Hononegah High School is all about growth: Growing confidence, growing ideas, nurturing curiosity and the potential to grow future businesses.
The curriculum is expanding and improving every year, according to Jason Brunke Career and Technical Coordinator. Brunke is the program facilitator.
Hononegah adopted the nation-wide program that was developed in the Barrington School District. It is now part of the curriculum in dozens of high schools.
Brunke introduced the program three years ago and hasn’t looked back. Real life, hands-on effort goes into starting a business. “The goal is to create entrepreneurial-minded students through teamwork and collaboration,” Brunke said. “The incubator program is a huge real-life learning experience for the students.”
Creating a brand, internet strategies, initiating marketing plans for distributing their ideas, and developing customer relationships fill out the goals of the class.
The program is similar to the television show,” Shark Tank.” The program features a variety of entrepreneurs who appear before a group of investors. The entrepreneurs explain their ideas and produce a business model. Investors then decide if they want to provide equity, loans, and/or partnerships.
Investors in the Hononegah program are made up of industry professionals who take a keen interest in developing responsible future business-minded adults. First National Bank, Members Alliance and Blackhawk Bank provide funds for the program.
Early in the school year, students present their ideas and ask for money to get their businesses off the ground at the Minimal Viable Pitch (MVP). At the end of the year, after working on all aspects of starting a business, they give their formal presentation to the group of area business leaders who make up the INCubator board and ask for specific funds to kick-start their businesses.
Those on this year’s board are

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