Nearly 30 students from Salina Public Schools leveraged their creative and innovative skill sets to start businesses and competed for top prize in the Entrepreneur Challenge of the Week.
The US$305 Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge is an event held in conjunction with the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce that gives Salina Public Schools students the opportunity to create business models and pitch their ideas to judges.
Wednesday’s event marked the sixth consecutive year of the Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge.
How the Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge Works
Students attended the event by submitting an executive summary online on March 1st. The deadline for her submission was February 24th and was hosted through VentureDash, a digital platform known for business contests. As a first step, these executive summaries will be reviewed online prior to the event.
Then Wednesday’s in-person event featured the trade show, where students talked about their business to visitors to their respective booths, followed by a formal five-minute presentation set as a pitch to the judges.
Executive summaries, trade show presentations, and formal presentations contributed an even percentage of 33.3% to the overall score aggregate.
To select judges, the Chamber will ask sponsoring organizations if they are interested, seek out volunteers around the Salina community, and draw on long-time judges who have been with the event since its inception.
“Certainly, we called business leaders, community leaders, anyone who was genuinely interested in doing this as a member of the community. , because it’s great for students,” says Renee. Daxler, Interim Chairman and CEO of the Salina District Chamber of Commerce.
The annual event was once again held at the Salina Area Technical College. The event currently consists of students from Salina Central High School and Salina South High School, but the Chamber of Commerce has decided to extend the event to local parochial and private schools, as well as to the El Saline School District and the southeastern part of the Saline School District. We are looking into options to open up.
Several businesses from Challenge have found long-term success locally. Mason Bettles’ “Bettles Mobile Car Detailing” took his second place in this challenge a few years ago and is still working on detailing.
Meet the Young Entrepreneur Couple of the Year
Liam Deniau-Young’s business, The Spindle & Chisel Woodworks, came in third on Wednesday. His business specializes in handmade woodwork with a focus on small ornaments.
“Everything I make is handmade, not from a machine compared to our competitors,” Deniau Young said.
He said his handcrafted items such as sheep, rabbits, Christmas trees and bowls make great gifts and are priced lower than you’ll find online.
“Our prices are much cheaper. For example, you can find a Christmas tree like mine for about $50 on Etsy and about $35 on Amazon,” says Deniau-Young. “For us, it’s only $25.”
Denau Young sources wood for both local and out-of-state projects. He orders hard-to-find wood online.
Sophia Osborne’s business, Sunn Bakery, specializes in baked goods and snacks that don’t require people to sacrifice their diet. The word “sung” means “health” in Norwegian.
“At Sun Bakery, we fully believe that we need to provide healthy, affordable, protein-rich products so people don’t have to lose their meals and have delicious treats to eat. You won’t have to spend a cheat day on a regular basis,” Osborne said.
Osborne said he plans to run the business as a sole proprietorship. A sophomore in high school, she says her leadership and business classes left her ready to develop a plan for her bakery business.
It sells cookies, cupcakes, scones, banana bread, waffles and more. A unique option at Sunn Bakery are snacks that offer a wide variety of types and price points. She said it was meant to start as a home business, but she wants to be downtown because it will be more profitable.
Salina South sophomore Emily Truong announced her business, Dew Shine, on Wednesday. Her business offers a variety of graphic design services.
“The only thing we really advocate for is happy customers,” says Truong.
Truong’s business aims to leverage industry standards in digital media and print design to provide solutions to businesses through thoughtful and innovative design.
At first, Truong would just create the designs, but if the company earned enough, she would later hire more designers to work on larger, longer-term projects.
this year’s winner
In the past, the competition has awarded 1st through 3rd place winners. This year, the event’s sponsor, Network Kansas, was so impressed with the group of attendees that they added an additional $250 in prize money on the day of the event, adding fourth place and his fifth place winner.
The winners of this year’s US$305 Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge are:
1st place ($500): Brooks Richardson and LakeSide Cleans
2nd Place ($350): Allison Johnson with Pumphouse Fitness & Cafe
3rd Place ($200): Liam Dinau-Young with The Spindle & Chisel Woodworks
4th Place ($150): Donald Crawford III and Jewelers Emporium
5th Place ($100): Parker Graves and Jesus Delgado with Sleevies
In addition to the Grand Prize, there was a “People’s Choice” award that was voted on by those who attended the trade show portion of the event. This year’s winner of his US$305 Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge People’s Choice award was Noah Peck for his business Shaggy & Sharp. He received $50 on his Smokey Hill deed.
Kendrick Calfee has been a reporter for the Salina Journal since 2022, primarily for county government and education. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @calfee_kc.