NKU entrepreneurs win big in Kentucky business plan competitions

For immediate release…
Monday – April 21, 2014

A team of students from Northern Kentucky University brought home prizes in two separate Kentucky business plan competitions this month. The brother team of Josh and Jared Young took second place in the business concept division of Idea State U, presented by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development April 11-12. Earlier this month, the team won the University of Pikeville Startup Challenge.

Idea State U
The Young brothers received a $2,540 award in the seventh-annual Idea State U competition held April 11-12 in Lexington. This statewide contest is designed to identify and support the next generation of Kentucky innovators and entrepreneurs. The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development hosts the event and awards nearly $100,000 in start-up capital to young entrepreneurs. NKU was one of 10 schools competing in Idea State U. A total of 26 teams made up of 80 undergraduate and graduate students participated.

In the business concept division, the Youngs pitched their idea for Veggie Magic, a spray solution that can be applied to vegetables to block bitter flavors. With the help of faculty advisors, students spent months developing business concepts or formal business plans, which were presented to panels of business experts serving as volunteer judges.

In an effort to maximize the potential return on the state’s investment, an emphasis of the competition was a team’s readiness to compete in the marketplace. One of the goals of Idea State U is to create real companies that provide real jobs for Kentuckians. Most of the award money can only be claimed as reimbursements for specified business expenses after the team forms a legal company in the commonwealth.

The Cabinet hosts the Idea State U competition to encourage a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship that will help sustain Kentucky’s future economy in the global marketplace. The $100,000 in awards makes Idea State U one of the top state-sponsored business plan competitions in the country.

Pikeville Startup Challenge
The Youngs and their Veggie Magic competed against eight other Kentucky teams April 4-5 in Pikeville. The competition was hosted by the Coleman College of Business in collaboration with the Kentucky Innovation Network and the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation.

The team was awarded $2,500 in prize money for the all-natural, zero-calorie flavored spray to increase healthy eating – especially for children – by masking the bitter taste of vegetables.

“We have been so overwhelmed with the amount of resources that NKU has made available to us,” Jared said. “We could not have won without the support of everyone at the Entrepreneurship Center and the Small Business Development Center. We strongly encourage anyone interested in starting their own venture or interested in being a part of one to take advantage of the resources NKU has to offer because for a new start-up they are invaluable.”

Dr. Rodney D’Souza, director for the Entrepreneurship Center and assistant professor of management at the NKU Haile/US Bank College of Business, was named Outstanding Advisor for his guidance and support for the two student teams that represented NKU. “I am honored to have been selected for this award by doing what I am so passionate about – working with students,” said D’Souza.

About the NKU Entrepreneurship Center:
The Entrepreneurship Center at NKU is a driver of educational and professional development opportunities to all NKU students. The center has a transdisciplinary focus and seeks to advance the university’s strategy by fostering cross-campus applied learning and embedding innovative thinking more deeply in the university culture. The center is built on the belief that students from the arts and sciences, engineering, nursing, business, informatics, and law can all learn from one another how to become more well-rounded innovative and creative thinkers. The center fosters opportunities for this transdisciplinary applied learning to occur.

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