Members of the Ravenna FFA Chapter created their own business after taking part in the FFA Launch! program.
Ravenna seniors Kale Eilenstine and Colby VanWinkle helped start the business, R Laser Solutions. The business specializes in laser-cutting designs on leather, tumblers, wood and more.
“The FFA in Ravenna had a laser machine, and we’ve all talked about doing something with it,” said Eilenstine. “So we just thought it was our perfect chance.”
The Launch! program selected four groups of students to take part this past year. The program aims to teach high school students about entrepreneurship, generate business ideas, and provide mentorship through the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship program at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln.
In addition to coming up with R Laser Solutions, they said the Launch! program, which they were accepted into last summer, provided multiple learning opportunities. Since their business has started, VanWinkle said the community has been very supportive.
“We’ve had a lot of our in-town businesses actually come to us with ideas for us to laser,” said VanWinkle. “We’ve even grown out of our community, so it’s been pretty great.”
Ravenna FFA Advisor Heath Ahrens said the Launch! program was also pivotal in providing financial assistance to the business by training them to deliver pitches.
“Last July, they received $1,700 for the rotary attachment, and that’s what funded the business,” said Ahrens.
Typically, Ahrens said groups in the Launch! program round out their experience by presenting their final pitches, including business plans and lessons learned, during the Nebraska FFA Convention in April. However, this year, they delivered their pitches virtually.
Eilenstine plans to attend Western Nebraska Community College in Sidney, Nebraska, to receive a certificate for aviation maintenance.
VanWinkle plans to enter an engineering or architecture program.
Follow @RLaserSolutions on Facebook to learn more.