By Rebecca White
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
February 17, 2012
Two 17-year-old juniors at East High School, Colin Johnson and Damien Gilbert, seem slightly surprised to have won $5000. The money is part of a program run by Jump Start Kansas and McPherson College to encourage entrepreneurial thinking in high school students.
The boys came up with a winning proposal to create steel water bottles out of recycled steel from local scrap yards.
“We were sitting in the first day of marketing class, and the teacher asked us to come up with businesses we would like to see,” says Gilbert. “I looked over and Colin had his plastic water bottle and I said ‘what if we could make that but better?’”
Johnson and Gilbert submitted a plan to buy steel from local scrap yards, melt it down in a foundry, a giant furnace, and pour it into a water bottle mold to make recycled steel water bottles.
“The goal is to keep the jobs in Kansas and create a clean alternative to plastic water bottles,” says Johnson.
The boys say plastic and aluminum reusable rebottles can leak chemicals into the water and leave a taste. They say that steel avoids these problems.
“We were really lucky because we just happened to stumble on an idea and the more we researched it, the better we found it actually was,” says Gilbert.
The boys say they have set $3000 from the prize money to start up their business. They hope to create a prototype of the recycled steel water bottle soon.
They plan to charge approximately $13 for their bottles, about $5 dollars less than other steel water bottle manufacturers they say.
The two have named their company Steel Salvation and they believe they will be the first to use recycled steel to create the water bottles.
They say that they are grateful for the opportunity to win the contest and that if the business goes well, they might wait a year before going to college when they graduate from high school.
“We are starting this at kind of an awkward time because college is two years away,” says Gilbert. “We basically have between now and graduation to decide if we’re going to college or going to take time off if this business really does take off.”
You can learn more about the recycled steel water bottles at steel-salvation.com.
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