PanTree is gaining momentum. The Huntington High School Virtual Enterprise course company is starting to make waves.
The full-year, one credit business course is available to juniors and seniors. “Virtual Enterprise is a simulated business that is set-up and run by students to prepare them for working in a real business environment,” according to the high school’s course bulletin.
Business teacher Suzi Biagi has been advising the PanTree company team. Executives include Sophie Laserson (chief executive officer), Morgan Colleluori (chief operating officer), Mary Grace Rorke (administrative vice president), Aidan Bonn (vice president of marketing), Dylan Coleman (chief technical officer), Matthew Lange (vice president of sales), Liam McDonald (vice president of human resources) and Kathryn Sanseviro (chief financial officer).
The PanTree company team also includes staff members Finn Cocoman, Harris Levinson, Jake Marques, George Morris, Palmer O’Beirne, Lucas Petrizzi, Scarlet Potts, Max Rentsch, Giselle Reyes-Canales, Dylan Schnitzer, Francesca Stamatatos and William Weber.
“Our firm has developed an intriguing new food app that offers an abundance of features to help make your life easier regarding all aspects of food,” Ms. Rorke said. “At PanTree, we are dedicated to creating a simpler and easier way to get groceries, plan out specific diets, find meal ingredients, address food insecurity in our community and much more. With only about three months of being an official business, PanTree has already accomplished amazing things with our dedicated and diligent team.”
The company has had an opportunity to speak with multiple, successful businessmen who offered wisdom and advice to the high school students. “In particular, Christopher Bates, a former member of the stock exchange and now turned college professor, offered helpful advice about our company and insights into the business world during the time we had to speak with him,” Ms. Rorke said. “Mr. Bates helped our CEO, Sophie Laserson, on our company’s ‘elevator pitch’ and gave all of us individual advice based on our position in the company.”
An “elevator pitch” is a 60-second rapid fire business pitch that is meant to “intrigue potential customers and partners from across the Virtual Enterprise International marketplace with the hope of generating future business activity for their company.”
Huntington High School alum Michael Brown, owner of Empire Automotive Group, also spoke with the PanTree company team. “During his time with us, he offered advice on how to start a successful business as well as how to keep your business steady during a crisis, specifically COVID-19,” Ms. Rorke said.
Students prepared questions to fire at Mr. Brown, who discussed his background and the keys to his success. “It was truly an honor to be able to speak with them and we were so grateful for the opportunity,” Ms. Rorke said.
Despite being all virtual this year, PanTree has already successfully completed two trade shows and is busy preparing for a third one scheduled for January 2021.
“In the local and national trade show, we were able to talk to other firms locally, as well as nationwide and made deals with them. When the trade show floor opened, our sales associates worked non-stop, making partnerships with other companies and trades with other firms,” Ms. Rorke said. “In the first two trade shows alone, PanTree made $200,000 overall in profit thanks to our dedicated team and hardworking associates. The trade show enabled us to get our company out there and recognized by promoting our product and making deals with companies around the United States.”
Company executives said that one of the most aspects of PanTree’s app is the food insecurity dimension. A person can enter their zip code and be provided with a listing of food banks in their area.
“Because of COVID-19, food insecurity and shortages has been at an all-time high and PanTree wanted to find a way where we can address this issue within our own Huntington community,” Ms. Rorke said. “PanTree was given the privilege of working with two incredible local organizations that primarily focus on food insecurity and families in Huntington: Long Island Cares and The Townwide Fund.”
Founded in 1980 by the late Harry Chapin as Long Island’s first food back, Long Island Cares distributes more than ten million pounds of food annually to over 259,000 Long Islanders and families in need.
The Townwide Fund of Huntington helps struggling families in Huntington. “Their mission is to raise the quality of life by funding local charities and food banks in the town of Huntington,” Ms. Rorke said. “We are very lucky to have these two amazing organizations as our local sponsors and recognized supporters, as we use our app as a way to help improve and give back to our community through these places.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has created many obstacles, but the PanTree company team has so far managed to navigate its way through and around them.
“Thus far, PanTree has had a very successful year participating in trade shows, talking to experienced people and partnering with local organizations,” Ms. Rorke said. “We are looking forward to what the next couple of months will bring. Our firm is excited to keep our business flourishing.”