E-Community Students Compete in the Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge State Championship

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Manhattan, KS – The Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge (KEC) State Championship, hosted by the Kansas State University Center for the Advancement of Entrepreneurship, and sponsored by the Kansas Masonic Foundation, took place virtually on April 27th and awarded high school entrepreneurs with over $20,000 in prize money. This statewide competition featured high school and middle school students from 46 communities in Kansas.

Forty-nine businesses consisting of 70 students presented their business concepts. Student teams submitted a written executive summary and pre-recorded elevator pitch. 11 finalist teams went on to present in a live, virtual mock board room round with judges.

“The Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge was able to move forward this year with a live, virtual mock board room despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the virtual event couldn’t have gone better! The judges were engaged and asked thought-provoking questions, and you could tell the students enjoyed their opportunity to present. Each young entrepreneur was extremely talented and we are in awe of their energy, passion, and drive,” said Amara Kniep, Manager of E-Community Programs for NetWork Kansas.

Each team that participated in the 2021 KEC will receive $250. The eleven teams that participated in the live, virtual Mock Board Room will receive an additional $250 (for a total of $500).

There were two teams that stood out to each of the judges as showcasing exceptional entrepreneurial characteristics. Those two teams will receive an additional $1,000 prize (for a $1,500 award total). They were:

Bits of Thread, Audrey Manry and Sarah Manry (Larned High School, Pawnee County);

Wonderfully Made, Carolina Barraza (Pike Valley High School, Republic County).

Other finalists that competed in the live mock board room round were:

Beauty by Jae, Jaelyn Rumback (Norton County);

Bettles’ Mobile Car Detailing, Mason Bettles (Saline County);

Frack Sweet Scents, Cooper Frack (Norton County);

Jessi D Photography, Jessi Dalke (Marion County);

Make It Sweet, Grace Whitham (Greeley County);

Morr2Grow, Kennedy Morrison and Campbell Morrison (Thomas County);

Perfect Events & Catering, Kennedy Holstein (Scott County);

Poels Pellets, Gabby Poels (Phillips County);

Unboxd, Aditya Joshi and Varun Verma (Sedgwick County).

The goal of the Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge (YEC) Series is to expose Kansas middle school and high school students to entrepreneurship and give them hands-on experience. Students that competed in their local YEC Series event automatically qualified for the KEC State Championship. Fifteen wildcard applications were also selected to compete through an executive summary open review.

“It is exhilarating to cheer students on as they explore their interests and cultivate their passions into workable business models through Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge projects. Students must use creativity, ingenuity, practicality, and presentation skills as they learn incredible life skills and are introduced to the idea of entrepreneurship as a viable (and often preferable) career choice. The real-world problem-solving skills students gain are tremendous and will help them thrive as they move forward in life,” said Christy Hopkins, Director of Greeley County Community Development.

The 2020-2021 YEC Series consisted of 44 local level competitions and 898 student participants, which culminated in the KEC State Championship on Tuesday, April 27th, held virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions. The event was organized by K-State with sponsorship from the Kansas Masons. The YEC Series is in its eighth year and continues to grow each season.

For more information, contact Amara Kniep, Manager of E-Community Programs at NetWork Kansas, at 316-425-8832 or [email protected]. For more information about NetWork Kansas or the E-Community Partnership, visit  www.networkkansas.com



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