The Business Incubator creates innovative thinkers

Palatine+High+School+Alumni%2C+and+co-founders+of+DeoBlock%2C+Anthony+Tamaras+%5Bleft%5D+and+Drake+Roberts+%5Bright%5D+return+to+PHS+to+tell+students+about+their+journey+in+entrepreneurship.

Ishika Mishra

Palatine High School Alumni, and co-founders of DeoBlock, Anthony Tamaras [left] and Drake Roberts [right] return to PHS to tell students about their journey in entrepreneurship.

Ishika Mishra, Reporter

The Business incubator room is always buzzing with excitement. Whether there are guest speakers sharing their stories with aspiring entrepreneurs or students discussing how to perfect their new innovations, room 222 is never without a collaborative spirit. Students fall in love with this comradery and passion as they are surrounded by the modern, professional interior of the business incubator room. 

Alumni of Palatine High School’s Business Incubator program use their learned entrepreneurial skills to build their businesses in a rapidly changing real world environment.

“Throughout this course, you work with a group to create a new innovative business idea,” said PHS alum and CEO of Easter Eggers, Keely McEnery. “Then develop a business model, product design, prototype, until finally, at the end of the year, you present a presentation to a panel of real investors in the community.”

This is the 7th year that the incubator course has been running and over 240 student entrepreneurs have participated. Every year, at least one team from PHS advances to the D211 pitch in May.

Many Palatine alumni site the Business Incubator course as the source for their interest in a career in entrepreneurship.

“My dream to become an entrepreneur sparked…when I joined the business incubator course, which ran just like the popular TV show Shark Tank,” McEnery said.

The business incubator class also led two PHS alumni, Drake Roberts and Anthony Tamaras to create DeoBlock. The plant powered deodorizer was the perfect solution for smelly gym bags, lockers, etc. and won them $25,000 from local investors. They used this money to continue building the DeoBlock brand and to raise an additional $100,000 to bring DeoBlock to market. Most recently, DeoBlock has just been supplied to the entire Northern Illinois University’s football team in a formal partnership.

“The business men and women we met through the Palatine incubator class helped us advance in many ways over the years,” Tamaras said.

McEnery began her business, Easter Eggers, prior to the first easter holiday during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her goal was to create a safe easter egg hunting experience and take some pressure off of parents during the stress inducing pandemic.

“We received so many positive reviews from all types of families, such as single parents, who were very grateful we could take some stress off their shoulders,” McEnery said. “Especially during the toughest days of covid.”

Business Incubator continues to have an impact, even well after students have taken the course.

“Palatine High School has given us a fantastic network of knowledgeable mentors. These are the mentors I met during my time in the business incubator program. It has been an absolute privilege to work with these amazing community members,” McEnery said.

The Business Incubator thrives on the help of its volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering or have any further questions, please contact Cliff Watanuki in the business department.