SPIRE students draw national attention

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SPIRE students draw national attention

Jared Hardin and Michael Navazhylau record a promo video.

Jared Hardin and Michael Navazhylau record a promo video.

Haley Tiepelman

Jared Hardin and Michael Navazhylau record a promo video.

Haley Tiepelman

Haley Tiepelman

Jared Hardin and Michael Navazhylau record a promo video.

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Twenty-seven high school business students launched SPIRE, a digital marketing and creative services firm, which runs out of room 2312 through an international program called Virtual Enterprise International (VEI).

Haley Tiepelman
Rikita Saunders sets up a booth for exhibition at Washington University St.Louis.

“In Virtual Enterprise we actually run a virtual business. We create awesome and eye-catching ads and other services, like online static web ads, commercial videos, 360 degree video, gifs, business cards and much more for VE firms and some real life clients,” Chief Operating Officer senior Ally Wagner said. “We also offer a service that allows VE firms to send us their own ads for us to place and advertise on the official Virtual Enterprise portal [website].”

Wagner is considering marketing as a major and is using VEI to prepare her for the industry. Virtual Enterprise teacher Emanuel Young says many of his students credit finding career paths and rewarding internships to their experience in VEI. Young often brings business professionals into the classroom for his students to connect with as well.

We delivered with great confidence, style and humor. It wowed the judges, and was a great learning experience for all of us.”

— Ally Wagner

“One student got an internship with Morgan Stanley her freshman year of college. The company was so impressed with her work that they have her working 30 hours a week, in a very profitable segment of the business,” Young said. “This type of experience is extremely rare for a first year college student.”

SPIRE earned recognition amongst other VEI businesses at regionals in Pigeon Forge, TN and qualified for Nationals, in New York, this April.

“We competed in the business plan competition at the Midwest Trade Show in November,” Wagner said. “We executed our plan by qualifying for VE Nationals.”

The SPIRE spent four months writing a 20 page editorial and presented for eight minutes in front of a panel of judges.

“At the Midwest trade show we dressed up business professional for our business plan presentation, which was super nerve-wracking but an amazing experience,” Wagner said. “We delivered with great confidence, style and humor. It wowed the judges, and was a great learning experience for all of us. Nationals will be at a higher level and will require our 100 percent effort which we plan to put forth.”

Kristen Baranski
Austin Balestra, Colin Murray and Haley Tiepelman assemble custom branded virtual reality viewers.

As one of three Missouri schools entering the VEI landscape, SPIRE did not have expectations of making it into the national spotlight their first year.

“The SPIRE team and I put so much time, effort and passion into building the company, preparing for competition. As a first-year firm, qualifying for Nationals was a fairly far-out goal, but we are all so proud and excited to reach this goal,” senior Brooke Ryan, SPIRE’s Chief Marketing Officer, said. “With that said, I am also nervous; Nationals is a big stage with tougher competition, more exposure and increased pressure. But, we are all super excited to have this opportunity.”

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