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Source: Chad Jackson, 785-341-6243, cjackson@k-state.edu
Note to editor: Alexandra Bastian and Kyle Keller are graduates of Olathe South High School; Alyssa Dickerson, Travis Tannahill and Tyler Tannahill are graduates of Olathe East High School; and Kelsey Hixson-Bowles is a graduate of Olathe North High School.
News release prepared by: Beth Bohn, 785-532-2535, bbohn@k-state.edu

Monday, April 25, 2011

FINDING THE NEXT BIG THING: STUDENTS WIN BIG FOR ENTREPRENEURIAL IDEAS

MANHATTAN -- What do proposals for organic soy food products, a fresh bread club, a new way to eliminate pests, and gardens to fight hunger and poverty have in common?

They're all the next big thing, according to a Kansas State University entrepreneurship competition.

Winners of The Next Big Thing competition were selected April 21 by a panel of successful K-State experts and local entrepreneurs. The Next Big Thing was open to K-State undergraduate and graduate students or teams from all majors. Students with unique entrepreneurial ideas were encouraged to enter the event with a chance to share $20,000 in prize money to further their venture concept.

Around 250 K-State students entered this year's competition. Finalists were selected by an external panel of judges in four divisions based on their written feasibility plans. Winners were chosen after finalists gave formal business presentations to the panel of alumni and entrepreneurs.

Winners in the graduate, product, service and social entrepreneurship divisions each received $2,000. Second place was worth $1,500; third place, $750; and fourth and fifth place, $250. All finalists were required to make elevator pitches to the judges, with the best pitch in each division receiving $250.

Winning the graduate division was Strong Roots Soy Company, a proposal to provide Kansas communities with fresh, simple and good tasting soy products made from organic and locally grown soybeans.

The social entrepreneurship division winner was Plot Against Hunger, a proposal for a nonprofit organization that would invite members of the community to help their neighbors by dedicating a small plot of land or container gardens in their own backyards for growing fruits and vegetables. When the produce is ready, Plot Against Hunger would pick it up and deliver it to local food pantries and kitchens.

The winner in the product division was the Monthly Bread Bakers Club, which would ship different pre-mixed bread baking ingredients to its customers' homes every month. These mixes may include special ingredients that customers would not be able to easily find elsewhere.

The proposal for Dominion Pest Elimination won the service division by offering a new way of sanitizing and controlling pest problems for companies that deal with grain, including bakeries.

Student finalists participating in The Next Big Thing, their proposal and prize include:

Andrew Smith, junior in chemical engineering, Andover, KC Master Bioenergy, fourth place, product division; Amanda Leive, senior in hotel and restaurant management, Basehor, Pure Events, third place, service division; Sara McClanahan, senior in bakery science and management, Clyde, Midwest Sampling Solutions, second place, product division; Spencer Young, junior in entrepreneurship, Colby, HD Seating, fifth place, product division; Molly Piha, sophomore in arts and sciences-open option, Douglass, The Oasis, fifth place, service division; Kayla Insogna, junior in arts and sciences-open option, Gardner, Greek Eatz, fourth place, product division; Ashley Mueller, senior in bakery science and management, Hiawatha, Monthly Bread Bakers Club, first place in product division and first place in elevator pitch; Timothy Becker, junior in milling science and management, Lenora, Monthly Bread Bakers Club, first place in product division and first place in elevator pitch; Bethany Vosburgh, senior in food science and industry and bakery science and milling management, Macksville, Midwest Sampling Solutions, second place, product division.

From Manhattan: Jordan Bader, sophomore in animal sciences and industry, The Oasis, fifth place, service division; Gavin Edwards, graduate student in food service hospitality management and dietetics administration, Hybrid Hostel, fifth place, graduate division; Dru Hinman, graduate student in business administration, Dominion Pest Elimination, first place in service division and first place in elevator pitch; Brock Ingmire, junior in communication studies, Loudspeaker, fourth place in graduate division and first place in elevator pitch; Chandler Johnson, senior in mass communications and communication studies, Loudspeaker, fourth place in graduate division and first place in elevator pitch; and Sally Oviatt, special undergraduate in geography, Strong Roots Soy Company, first place, graduate division.

Michelle Schmidt, sophomore in hotel and restaurant management, Milford, Konza Valley Farms, second place, service division; Clint VenJohn, senior in milling science and management, Mount Hope, Dominion Pest Elimination, first place in service division and first place in elevator pitch.

From Olathe: Kelsey Hixson-Bowles, junior in English, K-State Writing Fellows, third place, social entrepreneurship division; and Kyle Keller, senior in bakery science and management, Dominion Pest Elimination, first place in service division and first place in elevator pitch.

Tim Leitnaker, senior in hotel and restaurant management, Ottawa, Konza Valley Farms, second place, service division.

From Overland Park: Alexandra Bastian, senior in milling science and management, Midwest Sampling Solutions, second place, product division; Alyssa Dickerson, sophomore in business administration, Greek Eatz, fourth place, service division; Kyle Landau, senior in accounting, marketing and finance, Uadlifu, fourth place in social entrepreneurship division and first place in elevator pitch; Travis Tannahill, junior in secondary education, Crusader Mud Challenge, second place, social entrepreneurship division; and Tyler Tannahill, sophomore in political science, Crusader Mud Challenge, second place, social entrepreneurship division.

Josey Steeples, senior in milling science and management, Palco, Monthly Bread Bakers Club, first place in product division and first place in elevator pitch; Duane Unruh, junior in entrepreneurship, Peabody, Unruh Pasture Fresh Meats, third place, product division; Angela Tran, graduate student in agronomy, Prairie Village, Strong Roots Soy Company, first place, graduate division; Payson Burnett, senior in management and finance, Salina, Uadlifu, fourth place in social entrepreneurship division and first place in elevator pitch; Nicholas Meyer, junior in milling science and management, Shawnee, Midwest Sampling Solutions, second place, product division; Danielle Willburn, sophomore in arts and sciences-open option, Tonganoxie, The Oasis, fifth place, service division; Jack Pederson, junior in milling science and management, Topeka, Dominion Pest Elimination, first place in service division and first place in elevator pitch; Brandon Hoag, senior in milling science and management, Waverly, Monthly Bread Bakers Club, first place in product division and first place in elevator pitch; and Brandon Roberts, graduate student in food service hospitality management and dietetics administration, Wichita, Ice Cubes Quick Chill Containers, second place, graduate division.

From out of state: Jessica Thiermann, senior in marketing, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., Plot Against Hunger, first place, social entrepreneurship division; Caitlin Burns, senior in hotel and restaurant management, Aurora, Colo., Pure Events, third place, service division; Janet Dickey, graduate student in communication studies, Fort Collins, Colo., Loudspeaker, fourth place in graduate division and first place in elevator pitch; Liliana Torres, junior in architecture, Pembroke Pines, Fla., Student Farm Design, fifth place, social entrepreneurship division; Scott Galey, sophomore in arts and sciences-open option, Bolingbrook, Ill., Greek Eatz, fourth place, service division; Jenna Surprenant, junior in communication studies, Marshall, Minn., Loudspeaker, fourth place in graduate division and first place in elevator pitch.

From Missouri: Jake Frey, junior in architecture engineering, Kansas City, KC Master Bioenergy, fourth place, product division; and Kimberly Mahne, graduate student in interior architecture and product design, Picnique, third place, graduate division, and Lindsey Telford, senior in architecture, Student Farm Design, fifth place, social entrepreneurship division, both from St. Louis.

Maurianna Shelbourn, graduate student in communication studies, Lincoln, Neb., Loudspeaker, fourth place in graduate division and first place in elevator pitch; Erik Kynard, sophomore in business administration, Toledo, Ohio, HD Seating, fifth place, product division; John Hinds, senior in bakery science and management, Coppell, Texas, Dominion Pest Elimination, first place in service division and first place in elevator pitch; William Hastings, graduate student in food service hospitality management and dietetics administration, Meridian, Texas, Ice Cubes Quick Chill Containers, second place, graduate division; and Cayla Fish, sophomore in business administration, Spring, Texas, HD Seating, fifth place, product division.

From out of country: James Gregory, non-degree undergraduate in business administration, Canberra, Australia, HD Seating, fifth place, product division.