C-Falls students second in business challenge

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From left, Bryce Bennett, Ian McKenzie, Jordan Thompson, Ayden Role finished second in the fall Montana Business Challenge. Trey Spalding not pictured. (Jeremy Weber photo)

Five Columbia Falls High School students will get the chance to compete for college scholarships in the fall after finishing second in this fall’s Montana High School Business Challenge.

For eight weeks, the team of Ian McKenzie, Bryce Bennett, Ayden Role, Trey Spalding and Jordan Thompson made all of the decisions for their model digital music player business, Inkomo, Inc., from deciding how many units to produce and how much to spend on advertising to production plant size and research and development costs. At the end of the eight weeks, the simulation had Inkomo’s stock price at $89.75, just 40 cents lower than the first-place team from Melstone.

“We were shocked when we found out we had finished in second place. With a week to go, we were just barely above the average stock price, it’s not like we were doing phenomenal – not by any means. We just happened to get some good numbers in that final week and then there we were near the top,” McKenzie said about his team’s performance.

“I am so proud of these students and how hard they worked,” said Diane Marsh, business teacher at Columbia Falls High School.

After a slow start to the challenge, the team’s stock price plummeted to just $10 at the end of week four, but jumped to $64.20 in week five. The team was in first place after week seven but settled for a close second in the final tally.

The rise from rock bottom to second place constituted the most impressive stock price change in the 15-year history of the Challenge, but the team could not receive the Most Improved prize, as teams finishing in the top-eight are not eligible for the honor.

“This team really buckled down in the last half of the competition, increasing their stock price by $79.75 per share. In the nearly 15 years this prize (most improved) has been awarded, this is the largest stock gain ever, and this team deserves being in the top eight. Congratulations!” Tim Alzheimer, Business Simulations Coordinator for the Montana Council for Economic Education said in a press release.

While the students say the simulation was challenging at times, there were important lessons to be learned about the business world.

“We learned to ask more questions so we could learn what we were doing wrong. It taught us that there is a balance in business,” Bennett said. “We did both extremes, where we were not spending anything, and we did horrible, and we spent a lot, and we did horrible. We had to find that balance point before we did well.”

By finishing in the top eight, the Inkomo, Inc. team is now eligible to compete in the Challenge Bowl in May, where each member of the winning team will receive a $1,000 scholarship to a college of their choice. As top-eight finishers in the fall challenge, the members of the Inkomo Inc., team are guaranteed at least $100 scholarships.

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