Salem team wins Innovate WithIN™ High School Pitch Competition

INDIANA – High school students across Indiana gathered downtown Indianapolis Saturday for the final round of the fourth Innovate WithIN™ pitch competition, pitching their ideas to a panel of judges from Indiana’s entrepreneurial community. After advancing through two rounds of the competition, Southern Indiana Bait Co. LLC (SIBCo.) from Salem High School in Salem was named the overall winner of the statewide initiative hosted by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) and the STARTedUP Foundation.

“I’m encouraged and excited to see record participation from Indiana students in this year’s Innovate WithIN competition,” said Governor Eric J. Holcomb. “Initiatives like this are growing Indiana’s culture of innovation and entrepreneurship and empowering young Hoosiers to start using their creativity and entrepreneurial ideas. Seeing what these students have to offer at such a young age gives me a lot of hope for our state’s future.” 

Led by Zion and Xavier Dunaway from Salem High School, SIBCo. develops high-quality and durable bait for recreational, semi-pro, and professional anglers. Each team member will receive a $10,000 cash prize, $10,000 toward future education, mentoring services and internship, and additional scholarship opportunities.
 SIBCo., along with all of the final 10 teams, received mentoring services through the STARTedUP Foundation, which focused on helping students develop and execute their innovation and entrepreneurship ideas, as well as providing access to the Foundation’s network of mentors and advisers. 

Don Wettrick

“We continue to be encouraged by the talent coming from all corners of our state and to have a Governor who makes a point to not only attend the Innovate WithIN High School Pitch Competition each year but also spend time learning about the students’ businesses and encouraging the pursuit of their visions,” said Don Wettrick, STARTedUP Foundation founder and CEO. “They are truly representing an exciting future for our state.”

In second place, Acacia Ranch Show Goats, led by Sydney and Matthias Hefty at DeKalb High School, will each receive $2,500. In third place, AR Odyssey LLC, led by Aidan Mahaffey, Jesse Kogge and Julia Layton with The Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship and Bloomington High School North, will each receive $1,500.

The other finalists, who were honored with certificates of achievement, include: 

  • EveryBody (EB) Clothing Brand, led by Emmett Bowman from Crawfordsville High School;
  • Boost Box, led by Lauren Mitchell and Andrew Blessinger from Edgewood High School;
  • Aspire Group LLC, led by Trey Nebergall from Columbus North High School;
  • Omega Skin, led by Nimish Bhat from Carmel High School;
  • Cramps Revamped led by Allison Bradford from Hobart High School;
  • Sheap, led by Gadiel Montiel from Concord Community High School; and
  • FIA, led by Krishna Thiru, Emma Hamilton and Isaiah Branam from Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School/Zionsville Community High School.

Innovate WithIN is Indiana’s first statewide high school pitch competition, drawing 245 online applications from 815 Hoosier students at 128 high schools. Students were asked to work individually or in small groups to submit an innovative idea for a business, product, service or venture. After completing video pitches and regional competitions, the final 10 teams, representing Bartholomew, Boone, DeKalb, Elkhart, Hamilton, Lake, Marion, Monroe, Montgomery and Washington counties, were invited to Indianapolis to pitch their idea to a panel of judges.

The judges of Saturday’s competition were David Watkins, state director of the Indiana Small Business Development Center; Sunny Lu Williams, president of TechServ Corporation; Chip Neidigh, CEO and founder of Kairos Consulting; and Christine McDonnell, CEO and co-founder of Codelicious.

As part of Governor Holcomb’s Next Level Agenda to make Indiana a hub for innovation and develop a 21st century skilled and ready workforce, the state is committed to helping cultivate innovative ideas in the classroom. The Innovate WithIN™ pitch competition fosters an entrepreneurial spirit among our leaders of tomorrow, empowering students to hone their innovative thinking.

About IEDC
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) leads the state of Indiana’s economic development efforts, helping businesses launch, grow and locate in the state. Governed by a 15-member board chaired by Governor Eric J. Holcomb, the IEDC manages many initiatives, including performance-based tax credits, workforce training grants, innovation and entrepreneurship resources, public infrastructure assistance, and talent attraction and retention efforts. For more information about the IEDC, visit

The mission of The STARTedUP Foundation is to teach students how to view life through a lens of innovation and entrepreneurship, while building a life of purpose. We envision a generation of youth with an “Opportunities are Everywhere” mindset, fueling innovation and hope for our communities, country, and the world. To achieve this, we spark interest in innovation and design thinking to solve problems, we coach students through the process as they develop new ideas, and we accelerate student solutions to market-ready ventures. For more information, visit