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Source: Jeff Hornsby, 785-532-1301,
Web site:
Photos available. Contact or 785-532-6415.
News release prepared by: Beth Bohn, 785-532-6415,

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


MANHATTAN -- Entrepreneurial plans for a company that makes edible bouquets from baked goods and an organization that donates used children's books to charter schools are the top winners in Kansas State University's first Next Big Thing competition for undergraduate students.

Sponsored by K-State's Center for the Advancement for Entrepreneurship, the Next Big Thing asked K-State students to put their ideas to the test in exchange for $9,000 in prize money. Competition was divided into two categories, a product division and a service division.

Students attended six seminars on the entrepreneurial process to help develop their ideas and write their feasibility plans.

Winners, selected by a special judging panel, were announced April 24 at the inaugural Celebration of Entrepreneurship, sponsored by the Center for Advancement of Entrepreneurship. Monetary prizes were awarded in each division, with $2,500 for first place, $1,500 for second, and $750 for third. The prizes and the banquet were underwritten by a gift from Phil Howe, a Manhattan entrepreneur and chief executive officer of Kansas State Bank.

Winning the product division was the plan for Flour Indulgence, a company that makes baked goods, such as cookies and brownies, into edible bouquets as a substitute for flowers. The entrepreneurial idea was submitted by Kehley Pfrang, senior in bakery science and management and milling science and management, Goff; Mary Gleason, senior in milling science and management, Halstead; Maggie Weeks, senior in bakery science and management, Manhattan; and Kelsey Fairfield, junior in bakery science and management, Atlantic, Iowa.

Winning the service division was the plan for Shelf Help, a nonprofit company that collects used children's books and distributes them to charter schools. The students behind the idea were John Goddard, sophomore in English, Ellsworth; Daniel Hornsby, sophomore in English, Muncie, Ind.; and Michael Hackerott, freshman in general engineering, Blair, Neb.

"These students exemplify the best of K-State with integration of their academic knowledge and entrepreneurial skills. K-State students have many great ideas that, with some harvesting, may yield some very viable ventures," said Jeff Hornsby, K-State's Jack Vanier Chair of Innovation and Entrepreneurship and director of the Center for the Advancement of Leadership.

"This first competition exceeded our expectations with more than 100 students participating and representing majors from all across campus," he said. "From what I understand, the judges also were very impressed by the finalists' communication and presentation skills, as well as their passion for their venture ideas."

Twenty-six student teams submitted feasibility plans in the competition. The plans were reviewed by a panel of screening judges, who selected the top eight teams in each division as finalists. The finalists then presented their entrepreneurial plans to a panel of judges.

Receiving second place in the product division was the idea for Prestige Worldwide, a microbrewery producing quality wheat beers and celiac-friendly beers. Third place went to Bone on the Go, a company producing meal-replacement dog bones for dog owners to feed their pets while traveling.

In the service division, the second-place idea was Cafe Solara, a full-service restaurant serving breakfast and lunch from a renovated residential property and offering cooking demonstrations and private dining in the evenings. The third-place winner was Bunchd, a Web application that provides communications efficiency software via the Internet to the Web browser desktop or mobile phone.

K-State students and their product or service placing in the competition included:

Eric Dorsey, sophomore in business administration, and Jared Krause, sophomore in mass communications and computer science, both from Emporia and both for Bunchd, third-place service; Brian Drees, junior in milling science and management, Garden City, Prestige Worldwide, second-place product; John Weis, senior in feed science and management, Highland, Prestige Worldwide, second-place product;

From Manhattan: Adam Barnard, senior in hotel and restaurant management, Cafe Solara, second-place service; Rena Fowles, senior in management, Cafe Solara, second-place service; and Johnny Wilson, senior in feed science and management, Prestige Worldwide, second-place product.

Kathleen Kraus, senior in feed science and management, Marion, Bone on the Go, third-place product; Cole Schroeder, senior in milling science and management, Moundridge, Prestige Worldwide, second-place product; Tyler Langton, senior in feed science and management, and Cassie Knudsen, senior in feed science and management, both from Perry and both for Bone on the Go, third-place product; and Kelly McGuire, senior in feed science and management, Spring Hill, Bone on the Go, third-place product.