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Students honored at statewide youth entrepreneurship competition led by NetWork Kansas, K-State partners

Friday, May 3, 2024

Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge

Student entrepreneur Gabby Poels showcases her business Chargelet at the Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge tradeshow. | Download this photo.



MANHATTAN — The statewide Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge recently awarded more than $75,000 in total prizes to 31 aspiring entrepreneurs. In total, 72 businesses and 81 students participated in the event in April at the K-State Student Union.

The Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge, or KEC, is a program of the NetWork Kansas Entrepreneurship (E)-Community Partnership and involves several Kansas State University partners, including the Center for the Advancement of Entrepreneurship in the College of Business Administration. Through the K-State 105 initiative, the 2023-2024 competition year involved K-State Research and Extension and Kansas 4-H.

KEC represents the culmination of a sequence of community-based entrepreneurship competitions for students in grades 6-12, known as the Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, or YEC, series. Students are selected to compete in KEC by winning a sanctioned YEC series competition or by being selected as one of 16 wildcard participants, who are chosen because of the strength of their executive summary and pre-recorded elevator pitch.

This competition year marks the 11th annual YEC season and was the largest year for the entrepreneurship series, with 1,159 students participating from across the state.

"NetWork Kansas is thrilled with the growth of the YEC Series over the past decade," said Amara Kniep, director of (E)-Community Partnership. "Our goal is to foster an entrepreneurial mindset in young Kansans and to empower our youth to know that their future is in their hands."

The YEC series consists of local-level youth entrepreneurship competitions hosted by volunteers. Local YEC series events require students to prepare an executive summary and formal presentation, and they often feature interactive tradeshows or elevator pitches. Students work in teams or individually to represent a business concept and compete for awards and prizes. Students' work is judged by local entrepreneurs, public sector partners, teachers and other community members.

The businesses that advanced to the KEC state championship were judged on their executive summaries and mock boardroom presentations.

"K-State Research and Extension is excited to be a partner in this hands-on learning experience for the youth of Kansas," said Sarah Maass, program director for 4-H youth development. "The future for our state is bright with these young entrepreneurs helping lead the way."

The following businesses and students were selected as finalists:

• Aerial View, created by Callie Umphres and Sydney Bailey, Great Bend.
• Bakers Box, created by Autumn Wynn, Goodland.
• Beach Bound Creations, created by Maci Morgan, Wichita.
• Chording with Cylie, created by Cylie LaTourell, Sterling.
• DayWeb Media, created by Isaac Day, Fort Scott.
• Enlightened Wellness, created by Jenna Wilson, Garden City.
• Greener Grass, created by Felix Kirkland, Lawrence.
• Intricates, created by Bryan Garvert, Plainville.
• Katie's Car Freshies, created by Katie Aubert, Rossville.
• Layton's Show Cattle Embryos, created by Layton Hopkins, Tribune.
• Logan Lawn Care, created by Blake Logan, Towanda.
• Made in Minutes, created by Hailie Mick, Osborne.
• Pittsburg Poticas, created by Anamarija Kalan, Pittsburg.
• Tsooi's Cattle - Kansas Lange, Larned.

The following businesses and students received exemplary recognition:

• Aaron’s Lawn Care, created by Aaron Collins, Leavenworth.
• Blackbird Blades, created by Jonas Letourneau, Beloit.
• Bluehill Adventure Tours, created by Norah Ellenz, Tipton.
• CB’s Handcrafted Jigs, created by Cody Burns, Girard.
• Chargelet, created by Gabby Poels, Phillipsburg.
• Crouse Electrical Co., created by Peter Crouse, Atwood.
• Dough-licious, created by Armando Duran, Carson Ablard, Salina.
• Eggs Xpress, created by Brady Childs, Ellsworth.
• Elkhorn Silver, created by Josie Kueser, Ellsworth.
• High Plains Aquaculture, created by Landon Hendricks, Cheylin.
• LB.Leather, created by Lindsey Beltz, Sterling.
• Norris Tutoring, created by Dylan Norris, Salina.
• Sydney's Savings Storefront LLC, created by Sydney Heller, Sylvan Grove.
• Tre's Squeeze LLC, created by Tre Glasper, Manhattan.

The students also had the opportunity to participate in a tradeshow to showcase their businesses. Members of the public could attend and vote for their favorite businesses.

The following businesses and students were recognized with the Tradeshow People's Choice Award:

• First place: Made in Minutes, created by Hailie Mick, Osborne.
• Second place: Delectably Dried, created by Ames Schielke and Jack Denny, Colby.
• Third place: Cowgirl Creations, created by Riley Hunnicutt, Hope.
• Third place: Katie’s Car Freshies, created by Katie Aubert, Rossville.
• Fourth place: Lizzie’s Lounge Doggie Daycare & Kennel, created by Londyn Detlefson, Salina.

The following people were recognized as YEC Champions:

• Heather Stamper-Voss, Rooks County.
• Liz Watson, Morton County.
• Linda Haring, Lincoln County.
• Brian Richter, Rice County.
• Stephanie Maike, Wabaunsee County.
• Beth Zimmerman, Anderson County.
• Candis Meerpohl, Shawnee County.

The Kansas communities that hosted a local YEC series event included Allen County, Anderson County, Barton County, Bourbon County, Butler County, Chase County, Chautauqua County, Cherokee County, Cheyenne County, Clay County, Cloud County, Cowley County, Crawford County, Douglas County, Elk County, Ellis County, Ellsworth County, Finney County, Ford County, Franklin County, Graham County, Greeley County, Harvey County,  Jewell County, Kiowa County, Labette County, Leavenworth County, Lincoln County, Linn County, McPherson County, Mitchell County, Montgomery County, Morris County, Morton County, Neosho County, Norton County, Osborne County, Pawnee County, Phillips County, Pottawatomie County, Rawlins County, Reno County, Republic County, Rice County, Rooks County, Saline County, Scott County, Sedgwick County, Seward County, Shawnee County, Sherman County, Stafford County, Sumner County, Thomas County, Wabaunsee County, Wichita County and Wyandotte County. Additional communities were invited to participate.

For more information, visit youtheshipchallenge.com

Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge

The Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge includes a tradeshow where student entrepreneurs can showcase their businesses. | Download this photo.

About NetWork Kansas
NetWork Kansas was established as a component of the Kansas Economic Growth Act of 2004 to further entrepreneurship and small business growth as a priority for economic and community development in the state of Kansas. Backed by more than 500 partners statewide, the NetWork Kansas service promotes an entrepreneurial environment by connecting entrepreneurs and small business owners with the expertise, education and economic resources they need in order to succeed.

NetWork Kansas facilitates the development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem within participating communities through the Entrepreneurship (E)-Community Partnership. Contributing factors to successful development include availability of financial capital, support by local leadership and development of educational resources. All of these factors combine to increase entrepreneurial activity in participating towns, leading to increased startup activity, business expansion, job creation and more.

For more information about the (E)-Community Partnership, visit ecommpartnership.com or call 877-521-8600.

About K-State Research and Extension
K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county extension offices, experiment fields, area extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus in Manhattan. For more information, visit ksre.ksu.edu. K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

About K-State 105
K-State 105 is Kansas State University's answer to the call for a comprehensive economic growth and advancement solution for Kansas. The initiative leverages the statewide K-State Research and Extension network to deliver the full breadth of the university's collective knowledge and solution-driven innovation to every Kansan, right where they live and work. Additionally, K-State 105 forges the connections and partnerships that create access to additional expertise within other state institutions and agencies, nonprofits and corporations — all part of an effort to build additional capacities and strengths in each of the 105 counties in the state. For more information, visit k-state.edu/105.

Media contact

Division of Communications and Marketing

NetWork Kansas


Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge

News tip

Andover, Atwood, Beloit, Cheylin, Colby, Fort Scott, Garden City, Girard, Goodland, Great Bend, Ellsworth, Hope, Larned, Lawrence, Leavenworth, Manhattan, Osborne, Phillipsburg, Pittsburg, Plainville, Rossville, Salina, Sterling, Sylvan Grove, Tipton, Towanda, Tribune and Wichita.

Written by

Bailee Henry

Jennifer Tidball

At a glance

The statewide Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge recently awarded more than $75,000 in total prizes to 31 aspiring entrepreneurs.