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Springboard for success: K-State Launch awards $20,000 to student entrepreneurs

Friday, Nov. 13, 2015


MANHATTAN — A Kansas State University competition has awarded 14 students and six 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, 300 students registered for the competition this year, with 16 companies chosen as finalists and given the opportunity to pitch their business in person in front of the judges' panel, which had $20,000 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."

In the end, six businesses were awarded cash prizes by the judges panel: Bungii, EnviroStarch, edi • morphosis, Flyover Board Co., {Re}Greek and Bentz Creative.

Harrison Proffitt, senior in marketing, Hutchinson, and Ben Jackson, senior in marketing, Manhattan, were awarded $5,000 for their pitch for Bungii, a mobile application that will connect users with a driver and pickup for moving big objects around town.

"We learned so much about how to pitch our business and to defend our idea in front of a panel of judges," Ben Jackson said. "Our mobile application is being developed in India right now, so the prize money is a big help and will mostly go toward those costs."

Also taking home a $5,000 prize was the team for EnviroStarch, which aims to provide a durable, cost-effective alternative to plastic products, using a renewable and reliable source that is readily available throughout the United States. The EnviroStarch team was made up of Drew Wills, senior in feed science and management, Liberal; Savannah Stewart, senior in feed science and management, Valley Center; Larisa Sica, senior in animal sciences and industry, Campton Hills, Illinois; and David Weidmaier, senior in feed science and management, Holt, Missouri.

Rounding out the top three with a $4,000 prize was edi • morphosis, a collaboration between Jordan Thomas, senior in anthropology, Atchison, and MacKenzie Wade, senior in anthropology, Bakersfield, California. Their company provides insect-based, nutritious, high protein products for both cooking and snacking, marketed toward a growing consumer base that is in search of healthy and sustainable supplements to the modern diet.

The top three teams will have the opportunity to pitch their ideas again in the spring, with the overall winner at that point going on to represent Kansas State University in the Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge.

The team of Morgan Dreiling, sophomore in business, Manhattan, and Jane Chaffee, junior in mass communications, Overland Park, took home $2,500 for their pitch of {Re}Greek, a website that will let graduating sorority members resell their Greek apparel.

Flyover Board Co., which produces handcrafted cruiser-style skateboards, also received a $2,500 award. Their management team consists of Taylor Carr, senior in marketing, Lenexa, and Gabe Battis, senior in construction science, and Melody Schoneboom, senior in interior design, both from Manhattan.

Rounding out the prizewinners was Alex Bentzinger, freshman in business, Olathe, who won $1,000 for his pitch of Bentz Creative. His company offers a host of services, including photography, graphic design, Web design, campaign strategy and campaign management to companies in the Kansas City area. 


Chad Jackson


K-State Launch

News tip

Atchison, Hutchinson, Lenexa, Liberal,  Manhattan, Olathe, Overland Park and Valley Center, Kansas; Bakersfield, California; Campton Hills, Illinois; and Holt, Missouri


Launch Bungii

From left, Ben Jackson, senior in marketing, Manhattan, and Harrison Proffitt, senior in marketing, Hutchinson, were awarded $5,000 from K-State Launch for their pitch for Bungii. | Download the photo.



The EnviroStarch team pitches its business idea to the panel of judges at the 2015 K-State Launch competition. | Download the photo.

Written by

Brent Fritzemeier

At a glance

A mobile app to get help for moving heavy items and an alternative to plastic were the big winners in Kansas State University's entrepreneurial competition for students, K-State Launch.