A team from Salem High School in Washington County has taken the top prize in the statewide Innovate WithIN pitch competition. The Indiana Economic Development Corp., which hosted the competition along with the STARTedUP Foundation, says a record 815 students from 128 Hoosier high schools participated in this year’s event.

Southern Indiana Bait Co., founded by students Zion and Xavier Dunaway, won for its bait developed for recreational, semi-pro and professional anglers. Each team member will receive a $10,000 cash prize, $10,000 toward future education, as well as mentoring services and internship and additional scholarship opportunities. 

“Initiatives like this are growing Indiana’s culture of innovation and entrepreneurship and empowering young Hoosiers to start using their creativity and entrepreneurial ideas,” Governor Eric Holcomb said in a news release. “Seeing what these students have to offer at such a young age gives me a lot of hope for our state’s future.” 

DeKalb High School Students Sydney and Matthias Hefty took second place and will each receive $2,500 for their business, Acacia Ranch Show Goats. AR Odyssey LLC, founded by three students from The Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship and Bloomington High School North will each receive $1,500 for their third place finish.

The other finalists in the competition 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.

The IEDC says each finalist team received mentoring services through the STARTedUP Foundation.