MISD Students In National Spotlight As They Pitch Mallet Head This Week

students with check
(from left) Jonathan Douglass, Meta Real Estate, mentor; John Knight, First Financial Bank, mentor; Tyce Anderson; Emma Splawn; Whitney Krupala, Right at Home Midlothian, mentor; Noah Hobin; Peter Olusanya; Caed Mitchell; Zander Hubbard. Photo credit: Midlothian ISD

Mallet Head Team Pitches On Wednesday 7/21

As anyone who has ever watched “Shark Tank” on TV knows, the lights shine brightest on those fortunate enough to land a chance to try and strike a deal with any or all of the millionaires/billionaires in the room.

An entrepreneurship team of students from Midlothian School District who call themselves Mallet Head will be in such a spotlight, albeit on a smaller scale, Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. They have been selected to compete in the INCubatoredu National Final Pitch Night, part of the Uncharted Learning National Summit 2021.

Mallet Head created and pitched revolutionary percussion mallets to the MISDs own Shark Tank crew in May. From there they progressed as a national quarter-finalist, then semi-finalist and have now been chosen as one of five teams in the country to compete at the national competition.

Mallet Head team members include CEO Zander Hubbard; Emma Splawn, CFO; Tyce Anderson, marketing; Peter Olusanya, supply chain manager; Caed Mitchell, lead engineer; and Noah Hobin, quality control. The students were part of the INCubatoredu program at the MILE  (Midlothian Innovative Learning Experience) campus in MISD.

adults with carboard check
(from left) Stephen Hidlebaugh, Leasing Impressions, judge; Meredith Chase, 1558 Brand Agency, judge; Emma Splawn, Tyce Anderson, Jamie Wickliffe, Century 21, The Wickliffe Team, judge; Caed Mitchell, Midlothian Mayor Richard Reno, Omega Airline Software, judge; Zander Hubbard; Peter Olusanya; Noah Hobin; Honorable Michael Williams, former TEA Commissioner and currently Distinguished Leader in Residence, judge. Photo courtesy Midlothian ISD

The MILE at Midlothian ISD

The MILE is a state-of-the-art educational facility that provides flexible learning environments that reflect current industry and workplace environments in six career and technical education pathways: culinary arts, cybersecurity, video game design, aerospace engineering, civil engineering and entrepreneurship. Programs at this building give students from both MISD high schools (Midlothian and Heritage) an opportunity to utilize industry standard equipment and professional practices in a career path which the student has an interest.

Providing students space to ideate, create and iterate has proved itself with these students. They have taken an idea, tossed it out, started all over again, developed many, many versions of their prototype, and now have a patent-pending product that will change the way that percussionists operate,” said Nikki Nix, Director of CTE and The MILE.Their perseverance, grit and resilience have shown through. Both their product and the students on this team are game-changers.”

This team of students has applied for provisional patents to both their locking mechanism and the interchangeability of Mallet Head and Mallet Sticks. They have received much community support, including pro bono patent work, offers for pro bono LLC formation, and financial backing.

Experience Is Priceless

Mallet Head won $7,500 at MISD Final Pitch Night, with potential to win more at the upcoming National Pitch.

But, as team members will attest to, there’s much more money to be gained from this project.

“This experience as a whole has taught me so much. With the help of experts from all over with various talents and trades, we have been given the opportunity to soak up knowledge from all of them and pour that into our business. Mallet Head has the ability to change the percussion industry for years to come, and we are just so excited to keep running with this,” Splawn said with excitement.

“Helping build Mallet Head from the ground up has really been an eye-opener for me. There are numerous components that go into creating a business that I probably would’ve taken for granted had I not got into the idea of business,” Olusanya added. “Figuring out which materials to buy at a reasonable price, restructuring, and refining ideas to better suit your target customer’s needs are just some of the minuscule constituents that help piece together our business as a whole.

“The fact that we’re still in the process of solidifying Mallet Head as a reputable company shows how much it really takes to get up and going, which has been a very humbling experience.”

Revolutionizing An Industry

Mitchell said the project and businesses are special to him for several reason, the main one being that he got to design a product to help revolutionize an industry he loves. As an engineering student, he actually started the year in a class separate from the entrepreneurship team.

“I am so glad that I was able to find such a flexible team that was able to help promote and pursue the idea. Through this collaborative teamwork, we were able to help bring my idea to life and help make my prototype into a business starting reality,” Mitchell said.

Several mentors echoed thoughts about how this experience has been uplifting for them as well – along with the excitement that comes from seeing young folks work to make important changes in the world.

Mentors Love Watching The Students Evolve

“My experience working with Mallet Head has been fantastic. To see these student teams work with our engineering students on a product that will change the percussion industry has been a thrill,” said John Knight of First Financial.

“Having the opportunity to mentor the developers of Mallet Head has opened my eyes to all that MISD and The MILE have to offer. It excites me to know that our district is committed to preparing students with real-life business skills. I am excited for the future of Mallet Head and The MILE,” said Whitney Krupala of Right at Home Midlothian.

And Jonathan Douglass, Meta Real Estate, added, Watching this group of students evolve, grow and overcome obstacles has been nothing short of amazing. When their first idea didn’t work out many their age would have just given up. Instead, they found an amazing product in the engineering department at their same school. Being able to watch them learn how to overcome obstacles and leverage their relationships in our community has been a wonderful experience.”

Along with the thrilling experience they are enjoying at the moment, Anderson said being a part of Mallet Head has prepared him and his teammates for challenges they will face as they advance through life.

students giving presentation
(from left) Caed Mitchell, Tyce Anderson, Zander Hubbard, Emma Splawn, Peter Olusanyaf. Photo courtesy Midlothian ISD

Learning Life Skills

“This opportunity has blessed me with more knowledge and life skills than I could possibly ask for. At Mallet Head I’ve been presented with so many connections to knowledgeable people who have given me endless fountains of information and knowledge, things that I will use for the rest of my life,” he said.

Nix said the group has embodied the vision of the MISD to inspire students to excellence by being an inspiration themselves. She noted that in a cross curricular partnership between engineering students who are creating CAD drawings and 3D prints of their revolutionary design and business students who are developing financials, marketing  strategies and a full business plan, these students are formulating a path to success.

“As these incredible students have demonstrated, if you will give students a safe space to think creatively, ideate and problem solve, you will be blown away by their ability to meet and exceed your expectations,” Nix said.

To watch their presentation, click here.

Midlothian ISD invites the community to join them on Wednesday at 4:30 at The MILE to watch Mallet Head pitch live for the INCubatoredu National Finals. Good luck Mallet Head.

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Rick Mauch
Rick Mauch is a veteran of more than four decades in the media. He began writing in high school and immediately went into broadcasting for almost a decade after graduating, working his way to morning drive in Birmingham, Alabama. However, realizing how much he missed writing (though he did continue to do some during his time in top-40 radio), Rick returned to what he loved and has been doing it ever since. Rick's career has spanned a plethora of media outlets, including community journalism, sports, entertainment, politics and more. He's worked in print, broadcast and online media. He also spent several years doing public relations for a children's home in East Texas - still writing on the side, of course. When he's not writing, Rick loves to play golf and do Bigfoot research. He's an avid believer. He also made his first hole-in-one in June of 2020. Rick is married to Junell Mauch. They have five children and three granddaughters