K-State Launch awards $20,000 to student entrepreneurs
Friday, March 13, 2015
Jordan DeLoach, left, receives the first-place award in the K-State Launch competition from Chad Jackson, director of the Kansas State University's Center for the Advancement of Entrepreneurship. DeLoach, a junior in computer science, earned the honor for the development of his company, Twitistics. | Download this photo.
MANHATTAN — A Kansas State University competition has awarded 19 students and 16 different business ideas with $20,000 in prize money.
The K-State Launch competition gives students experience in the process of making a business proposal. The competition is organized by the Center for the Advancement of Entrepreneurship in the College of Business Administration and is open to all students and majors in the university. To compete, students create a feasible written plan, deliver a business pitch and present to a panel of judges that consists of local entrepreneurs, bankers and investment experts.
In total, 394 students registered for the competition this year, making it the seventh straight year of record entries. Sixteen companies were chosen as finalists, receiving $500 and the opportunity to pitch their business in person in front of the judges' panel, which had an additional $15,000 in prize money to distribute.
"K-State Launch is an opportunity to showcase the tremendous entrepreneurial talent at K-State," said Chad Jackson, director of the Center for the Advancement of Entrepreneurship. "The real-world experience of pitching a business in front of the type of business experts we have on our panel is invaluable to these students, and provides real-world feedback and support to launch companies within our state."
The three finalists to win the top prizes in this year's K-State Launch were Twitistics, hello! Language Learning and Amazing Lace Bridal.
Jordan DeLoach, junior in computer science, Manhattan, won $10,000 and first place for his pitch for Twitistics, a social media background check company. The $10,000 prize is the largest awarded in the seven-year history of the competition.
"The money will enable us to get our product out there on the Internet," DeLoach said. "It will be used to pay for the cloud computing resources and the marketing campaigns we will need going forward to get Twitistics off the ground."
In addition to winning K-State Launch, DeLoach will represent Kansas State University in the Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge in May.
"The K-State Launch competition process was very beneficial for Twitistics, specifically because it helped flesh out a lot of the details," DeLoach said. "Before K-State Launch, Twitistics was very much product-driven, and the competition helped with forcing a focus on the other parts of the business, like the financials, marketing and other things that are key to having a good, marketable product."
Collin Clifford, a master's student in business administration from Huntington Beach, California, took second place and was awarded $3,000 for hello! Language Learning. Clifford's company hopes to use Skype technology to connect users interested in learning new languages to native speakers around the world for lessons.
Rounding out the top three with a $2,000 prize was Miranda Burns, senior in entrepreneurship, with her company, Amazing Lace Bridal. Burns has opened a bridal gown and alterations business in her hometown of Dodge City, where she sources other wedding dress store's sales samples for use by brides.