Students Compete in Inaugural Gustie Entrepreneur Cup

Posted on May 13th, 2015 by

Chloe Altmann '15 and Danielle Kirchner '15 hoist the winning check from this year's Gustie Entrepreneur Cup.

Chloe Altmann ’15 and Danielle Kirchner ’15 hoist the winning check from this year’s Gustie Entrepreneur Cup.

Some of today’s most successful and innovative companies were started by undergraduate students with Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook being the most notable example. Now, Gustavus is challenging its students to develop the next great idea with the establishment of the Gustie Entrepreneur Cup.

This spring, students in Professor Marta Podemska-Mikluch’s upper level Entrepreneurship course developed original entrepreneurial ventures, wrote and submitted business plans, and pitched their projects to a panel of invited judges. The competition grew out of the vision of Larry Lukis, a parent of three Gustavus graduates and the founder of Proto Labs, a company that provides rapid manufacturing of custom parts for prototyping.

The event engaged a number of faculty, alumni, and friends of the college, who served as judges, guest speakers, and team mentors. A total of 18 students that made up 11 teams made proposals at the event. The first, second, and third place winners were awarded cash prizes totaling $6,000 to help jump-start their businesses.

Gustavus junior Gary Cooper, who took second place, gives his proposal to the audience.

Gustavus junior Gary Cooper, who took second place, gives his proposal to the audience.

“The Gustie Entrepreneur Cup is a focal point of the effort to create a space at Gustavus where students can experiment with putting innovative ideas into action,” Podemska-Mikluch said. “Entrepreneurship requires critical thinking, promotes creativity and resilience, teaches how to deal with ambiguity, and allows students to learn what questions to ask, and where to look for answers. We also believe that entrepreneurship is the perfect way of blending vocational preparation, service, and liberal arts education.”

The winners of this year’s inaugural Gustie Entrepreneur Cup were Chloe Altmann ’16 and Danielle Kirchner ’16 for their proposed business, C&D Campus Maps. Altmann and Kirchner’s idea involves creating navigational apps to help colleges create engaging experiences for their visitors. Under their business plan, their app would provide directions to all campus destinations including academic buildings, residence halls, parking lots, cash machines, and more. The app would also help visitors navigate to locations within buildings.

Seniors Amy Medearis and Michael Houg, who were awarded third place, make their presentation.

Seniors Amy Medearis and Michael Houg, who were awarded third place, make their presentation.

“The experience with the Gustie Entrepreneur Cup was a success. This was a learning process from start to finish. We began with a simple idea and transformed it into a practical business plan,” said Altmann and Kirchner, who were mentored by Gustavus alumnus Ari Silkey ’99. “We learned how to create a business plan and then pitch our idea to an audience with a panel of seven successful judges. This experience will benefit us down the road as we have made many connections with alumni who have potential interest in our business idea.”

This year’s second place winner was Gary Cooper ’16 for his proposed business, Mental Health Family Services. Cooper’s plan involves teaming with his wife, Jacqueline Cooper, who is a psychiatric nurse practitioner, to open an outpatient psychiatric clinic in the Twin Cities. Citing the fact that access to healthcare and psychiatric services in particular can be a barrier for consumers, Cooper’s business proposal would provide patients a reasonably cheaper alternative to a physician.

This year’s third place winners were Amy Medearis and Michael Houg ’15 for their proposed business, Blinke Beauty. This beauty bar would specialize in eyelash extensions and also offer other beauty services such as facial waxing and makeup application.

Anybody interested in being involved in the Gustie Entrepreneur Cup next year as a competitor, mentor, guest speaker or judge can contact Podemska-Mikluch by emailing her at mpodemsk@gustavus.edu.

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Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
jakin@gustavus.edu
507-933-7510

 

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