Friday, April 12, 2019

D3 hosts Demo Night to showcase inventions, app and business ideas - OSU - The Lantern

D3 hosts Demo Night to showcase inventions, app and business ideas - OSU - The Lantern

D3 hosts Demo Night to showcase inventions, app and business ideas - OSU - The Lantern

Posted: 11 Apr 2019 06:40 PM PDT

Entrepreneurial student organization D3 will host Demo Night Saturday to showcase the work of students who created a new app, website, invention or business idea. Credit: Courtesy of D3

Design, Develop and Deploy — known as D3 — will host Demo Night on Saturday to showcase the work of students who have created a new app, website, physical invention or business idea during the spring semester.

The event is intended to gain feedback from "potential users" to glean insight on how to improve their products to help launch it in the real world.

"What we do is essentially building businesses by finding a problem, and then executing a solution," Tsubasa Konishi, vice president of marketing for D3, said. "With an organization like D3, there is opportunity for immediate and long-term growth starting at our home, OSU, which will expand into the world for the better."

Established in 2016, D3 is a student organization designed for innovative individuals who excel in building apps, websites and tangible inventions. D3 allows students to jumpstart their own businesses, making it different from other entrepreneurial groups on campus, according to Konishi.

Members have built many diverse products, ranging from grocery receipt scanners that help eliminate expired food to virtual-reality-based advertisements. Student teams showcase their final products on Demo Night, which other students, professors and professionals from outside Ohio State attend.

The success of projects along with the help of professionals who attend Demo Night have landed students summer internships with high-profile companies, including Honda. Konishi was the project lead of a successful project that ultimately partnered with One Line Coffee, a coffee bar in the Short North.

"At Demo Night at the end of the semester after all of our hard work, having a validation source from such a prestigious company was a shining moment for me," Konishi said.

Students must apply to join D3, and once the group approve applicants, it separates students into small groups to design an idea and eventually brings their idea to life.

"With OSU having some of the country's brightest students, we understand that many students have an idea in the back of their mind that they have the ability to bring to real life if they put the effort into it," Konishi said.

Students of all majors are welcome to apply to join D3. The diversity members bring to the organization have contributed to its success and the success of the final projects.

"[D3] is the only organization at Ohio State that provides opportunity and value no matter what your skill set may be," D3 president Michael Radey, said. "If you can identify a problem in the world, D3 will have a group of hardworking people motivated to help you solve it and make an actual impact in society."

Unlike learning skills in a classroom setting, D3 offers students the opportunity to create tangible products and build a company out of it. Students are given the opportunity to expand their entrepreneurial expertise before their college careers end.

"Over the years, [D3 has] helped me meet a diverse group of people and hear ideas that I would never have heard in a classroom," Radey said. "[D3 has] challenged me to not be afraid of failure and have confidence in my own work."

Demo Night will be held from 6:15 to 9 p.m. on April 13 in the Ohio Union's Reflection Room. D3 encourages anyone interested to attend as they will also provide dinner and prizes for attendees.

Business students vie for share of $250,000 competition prize | WMU News - WMU News

Posted: 11 Apr 2019 12:00 AM PDT

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—When you're a heating and cooling contractor, it's important to get all your ducts in a row. The process can be labor-intensive and time consuming. But two Western Michigan University sales and business marketing students are ready to give installers some relief on the job site.

Brenna Vaughn, right, and Danny Rogers, left, display the prototype for their product, SnapDuct.

Seniors Brennan Vaughn and Danny Rogers are headed to Minneapolis for the Schulze Entrepreneurship Challenge. Only 25 teams from across the country were selected to compete in the three-day competition, which has been likened to "Shark Tank" for college students. The stakes are high, with more than $250,000 in prize money up for grabs for the teams who make the best product pitches and develop the most innovative concepts during four separate competitions.

"It's very exciting because over 150 applicants submitted their business ideas," says Vaughn, who is from Mattawan. "It's just a surreal moment to not only be representing Western Michigan University, but also be representing an idea that's in its very early stages that I thought of."

Vaughn came up with the idea for SnapDuct—an innovative connection system for ductwork that could save HVAC installers time and money. It involves a coupler fitted with an internal rubber gasket so that a contractor can easily and quickly snap ducts into place.

"I grew up in a small family heating and cooling business where I was a part-time helper, installing and sealing sheet metal ductwork in the summertime," says Vaughn, whose father owns Mattawan Mechanical. "What I found to be a problem in the industry is the process of installing ductwork and sealing it at the same time. It's by far the longest process out of anything else an HVAC contractor does."

He started developing the concept in December through Starting Gate, WMU's entrepreneurship incubator for students. Then, he got to work.

Vaughn hones his skills during a pitch competition at WMU.

"I've been doing a lot of trade shows, phone calls, going to job sites and observing installers to make sure that this problem is something that can actually be solved," says Vaughn.

When Vaughn submitted his application for the competition, he asked Rogers to come on board to help develop a financial strategy and bolster his product pitch. The team used WMU's resources like market research databases to understand market sizes and how to enter those markets. They also learned about a growing void in the industry: labor.

"Everybody estimates that we're going to have a huge delay in the trades workforce and prices are going to skyrocket," says Rogers, who is from Ypsilanti. "So we're trying to implement a product that can save time and enable them to get more work done."

The team also enlisted the help of WMU engineering student Max Chen, who helped design and create a SnapDuct prototype. They'll take that 3D printed prototype with them to Minneapolis, where there's more than just prize money on the line.

"I'm most looking forward to meeting entrepreneurs from all over the country and networking with them, so that I can get a better understanding of entrepreneurship as a whole and what you need to be successful with any idea," Vaughn says.

"What an opportunity to finish off our college career at something like this and represent Western and represent SnapDuct," says Rogers.

The competition runs from April 11 to 13.

ABOUT Starting Gate

This is the third year in a row a team from Starting Gate was selected to compete in the Schulze Entrepreneurship Challenge. 

Starting Gate is a student business accelerator that gives students resources to develop their startup companies. Located in the Park Trades Center Building in the heart of downtown Kalamazoo and operated by the Haworth College of Business Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in partnership with the Western Michigan University Office of Community Outreach, the accelerator is open to all WMU students through a competitive application process. Starting Gate provides a fast-track to business launch.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.

Next Air Force Pitch Day will focus on space and time to market - Federal News Network

Posted: 12 Apr 2019 12:54 PM PDT

After a successful day of rapidly handing out contracts to businesses with innovative ideas last month, the Air Force will replicate its Pitch Day this fall to focus on space issues.

In case you haven't noticed, space is a pretty big deal right now — read Space Force. The Air Force is ready to put its money where its mouth is and actually give companies money on the same day their idea is pitched in hopes of growing the defense industrial base.

"The reason we wanted to do the Pitch Day event was to demonstrate to industry and to tech startups they could count on cash from us the day that we said," Will Roper, Air Force assistant secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, said Friday during an Air Force Association event in Arlington, Virginia.

Part of the need for a Pitch Day and for a change in the way the Air Force approaches acquisition in the first place, Roper said, is that the threat landscape is changing.

Building weapons systems worth hundreds of millions of dollars over years isn't cutting it in the 21st century. Plus, companies are likely to go to the private marketplace for things like drones, software and lasers, which are the weapons of the future.

"We are still doing great technology inside the government," Roper said. "But that's part of a much bigger tech ecosystem that includes commercial development and academic development. If technology is everywhere, then that model we have from the Cold War that matures technology and puts it in systems and makes the moves in the chess game decades apart is dangerous to carry into this century."

Roper said the model from the Cold War is based on technology exclusivity that is secret and able to surprise the enemy. That world is now gone.

"The only thing that makes sense to me," Ropers said. "Is that time to market has to be your cutting edge. It's eventually going to be copied and ripped off, so be there first. Be able to productize first. By the time your second responders have done that; you're on to something else."

Pitch Day is the beginning of that.

The Air Force is bringing new companies into the fold with new ideas and allowing them to move quickly within the federal acquisition regulations.

Pitch Day's premise is simple — bring in companies, listen to a 10-minute pitch, spend 5 minutes asking questions and then, if the Air Force likes the idea, hand them a contract before they step out the door.

So far the Air Force is casting a wide net of investments. The Air Force awarded $3.5 million to 51 companies during the first Pitch Day, which will grow in installments to $8.75 million. Before the day itself, the Air Force gave out even more funds to small and emerging businesses. It awarded 122 phase 1 contracts worth $6 million and 69 phase 2 contracts totaling $60 million. That's a grand total of 242 contracts worth $75 million.

What's great for the businesses is that by getting the money right away they don't need bridge loans. Getting money from a contract the same day means paying payroll that week for some small businesses, Roper said.

The Air Force has a $660 million budget to work with for things like Pitch Day, but it's not stopping there.

Roper wants to tap another $200 million the Air Force has to move technologies from universities and into a business setting.

The Air Force signed a memorandum of understanding with MIT two weeks ago to work on artificial intelligence.

"We are creating an AI accelerator to get research up at their Computer Science and AI Laboratory to get ideas out and into companies," Roper said. "I hope that by the time we are done with this and we bring the billions of dollars that we have to bear that an innovator anywhere in this country will say, 'I'm going to the Air Force first because I know I have nothing to lose. I can trust they can deliver on the day they say. They are cash dilute. They are not going to ask for equity in my company. And we have fairly low return on investment expectations; we are a very patient investor compared to the venture capitalist world."

Copyright © 2019 Federal News Network. All rights reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

UNC's Innovation Showcase spotlights ideas with impact potential - WRAL Tech Wire

Posted: 12 Apr 2019 11:17 AM PDT

CHAPEL HILL — For anyone who attended the 2019 UNC-Chapel Hill Innovation Showcase, the message was clear: Innovation and entrepreneurship are thriving at the University and in the Triangle.

The event, hosted by Innovate Carolina, drew around 535 attendees and 50 presenters to pitch and exhibit their businesses, social ventures and research.

For presenters, it was a chance to share their innovations – ranging from social and consumer tech ventures to new health care and life science startups – with investors and entrepreneurial experts. And for investors, local entrepreneurs and others, the event was a way to learn about inventive ideas with potential for economic and human impact.

"The 2019 Innovation Showcase was a milestone year for the event and the entire innovation and entrepreneurship community connected to UNC-Chapel Hill," said Judith Cone, vice chancellor for innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development. '

"In its 10th year, not only did the event set records for attendance and the number of presentations and exhibits, we also saw outstanding diversity in the types of ideas that students, faculty, alumni and local business leaders pitched and exhibited. Innovators at Carolina are passionate about pursuing research and social and commercial ventures aimed at solving a wide range of problems. The showcase celebrates their accomplishments and helps them connect with investors and entrepreneurial experts who will work with them to take their ideas even further in making an economic and social impact in North Carolina and globally."

A few minutes in four industry track rooms yielded insights about exciting new possibilities. Just a few of these included:

  • Next-generation DNA sequencing for cancer genomics.
  • More effective anti-inflammatory therapeutics for cystic fibrosis patients.
  • The first noninvasive, at-home detection test for human papillomavirus virus.
  • A point-of-care, early-detection test for preeclampsia, a life-threatening condition in pregnant women.
  • A venture that makes computer science accessible to students in low-income communities.
  • Farming and using seaweed for eco-friendly plastic substitutes.

Rashaad Galloway and Dezbee McDaniel. Credit: Sarah Daniels.

Angelina Patel.

The event also featured the final round of the Carolina Challenge Makeathon, a campus-wide maker competition.  The competition began in February with a week-long event that included 37 student teams developing physical and digital prototypes. The top three teams made their final pitches during the showcase.

SP0T, a company developing an app that provides users with customizable maps of top-rated places and secret spots shared between friends and people in community, emerged as the winner and recipient of a $1,000 prize.

Fanshawe College's Innovation Week delves into business ideas - The London Free Press

Posted: 18 Mar 2019 12:00 AM PDT

University of Waterloo graduate student Tina Chan, creator of the Panic, Anxiety and Stress Support Kit, spoke to Fanshawe students during Innovation Week on Monday. (HEATHER RIVERS, The London Free Press)

As an undergraduate at the University of Waterloo, Tina Chan couldn't help but notice a lack of easily accessible mental health resources for students, especially in times of severe duress.

So what exactly was the problem? And, she wondered, how do you bridge that gap?

Chan, now a grad student and creator of a first aid kit for mental health, spoke at Fanshawe College's Innovation Week about how her insight into a gap in the system led her to starting a company called Panic, Anxiety, and Stress Support Inc.

That kind of thinking is central to the work being done at Fanshawe College's Innovation Village, a space for students and others to collaborate on solutions.

Panic, Anxiety and Stress Support Kits (HEATHER RIVERS, The London Free Press)

David Belford, executive director of Innovation Village, said ideas of students and staff are the focus of events during Innovation Week.

"We think it is very important for our students and also our employees to highlight innovative practices of our professors and highlight research projects our students are in engaged in," he said. "It's a great way to highlight that innovation is very important in their future workplaces and it is also a great way for us to learn from each other."

Chan said accessibility to mental health treatment and education is a problem for students. "The more specific part that I'm focused on and I'm interested in is the way that students access the resources that schools provided," she said.

The Panic, Anxiety, Stress Support Kit includes a number of mental health resources including earplugs, a sleep mask, stress ball and sugar-free gum. "My company invented that idea of a first aid kit for mental health, so there are tangible tools that students can reach for to lower their blood pressure, take that breather or even decrease environmental stressors like noise and light," she said.

While Chan noted there are already "a lot of efforts and information" available, she wanted to make it more student-accessible. One example she cites are the text-heavy government pamphlets that are more focused on prevention and education than teaching people what to do in "that moment of panic."

It's a great way to highlight that innovation is very important in their future workplaces and it is also a great way for us to learn from each other.

David Belford

"We took that information out there in those pamphlets and in the government material and condensed it into more readable, friendly, more Twitter-length, attractive formats, in the form of flash cards and added them to our tangible kits as well," she said.

Also as part of Innovation Week, an entrepreneurship event called Stone Soup featuring five innovative entrepreneurs is slated for Tuesday afternoon.

"It will demonstrate to the students that there are opportunities for them to start businesses and give them examples of other people who have done that before," Belford said.

Twitter:  @HeatheratLFP

Business Management Major Wins Pitch Competition with Environmentally Friendly Idea - University of New Haven News

Posted: 12 Apr 2019 12:29 PM PDT

Empowering students of all majors to become changemakers, the Alvine New Venture Pitch Competition enables entrepreneurial students to identify a problem, propose a solution, and learn how to pitch their ideas.

April 12, 2019

Photo of Ketsia Kimpioka '19 and Donnie Willyard '19
Ketsia Kimpioka '19 and Donnie Willyard '19, the first and second place winners of the Alvine New Venture Pitch Competition.

Ketsia Kimpioka '19 has developed an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic bottles that is gaining some traction. "All Ways Green," her "solution to pollution," recently won the first-place prize of $6,000 in the University's Alvine New Venture Pitch Competition.

Discussing the need to address the plastic problem, Kimpioka, who is also working with two classmates to develop a nonprofit organization to raise awareness of social issues, presented an idea – a bottle with an algae-based inner lining and a seed-paper based exterior.

"The competition was a great experience, and it helped me to realize that my idea is possible, and that people are supporting me." Ketsia Kimpioka '19

"This event was competitive," said Kimpioka, who also won Charger Startup Weekend with All Ways Green. "The competition was a great experience, and it helped me to realize that my idea is possible, and that people are supporting me."

The judges, who included the three entrepreneurs inducted into the University's Entrepreneurship and Innovation Hall of Fame, listened to 13 pitches – some from teams, and others from students who, like Kimpioka, worked individually.

Students' ideas included a soccer training program for kids, solar powered smartphones, and a bookstore vending machine. Donnie Willyard '19 pitched "Flight Club," a subscription-based, data analytics-driven craft beer delivery service that aims to replicate the tasting experience of a brewery. Willyard's pitch was awarded the second-place prize of $4,000.

Students in the Alvine New Venture Pitch Competition.
Students of all majors took part in the Alvine New Venture Pitch Competition.

Earlier in the semester, participants attended six workshops to refine their ideas and create their presentations. Led by entrepreneurs or members of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Department, the sessions enabled students to network and learned about supply chains, business models, and marketing.

As they pitched their ideas, students identified the problem they were addressing, their solution, their clientele, and how, if they won, they would use the prize money to further their business endeavor.

"This competition gave me an opportunity to grow both as a student and as an aspiring small business owner."Anthony Dicioccio '19

"As an alumnus, I believe it is important to see the talent that the University is developing," said Paul Francese '90 MBA, who served as one of the judges. "I was glad to share this experience with the students."

Francese and his fellow judges were so impressed with the pitches that they recognized three additional pitches as "honorable mentions" – including the one made by Anthony Dicioccio '19. A former army officer, Dicioccio pitched "SNAP Trainer," which was inspired by his own service.

"This competition gave me an opportunity to grow both as a student and as an aspiring small business owner," said Dicioccio, an international business major with a concentration in economics. "It is helpful for me to see what my classmates are doing."

6 ways to find innovative ideas: Houston CIO of the Year winners share - The Enterprisers Project

Posted: 12 Apr 2019 03:05 AM PDT

CIOs are increasingly looking outside their own organizations for new ideas and fresh perspectives to help drive innovation. But who are they talking to? Where are they looking? 

We caught up with CIOs who recently won the 2019 Houston CIO of the Year ORBIE Awards to find out some of the ways they seek innovation beyond their own walls. The awards were presented by the Houston CIO Leadership Association, a professional community that annually recognizes CIOs for their excellence in technology leadership.

These award-winning CIOs all have their trusted methods for scouting out innovation – from strategically using speaking opportunities at events to learn more about key technologies to turning to wide-eyed interns who may have ideas that veteran employees don't spot. Read on to learn some of their pro tips and examples for identifying new ideas. 

[ How does your EQ stack up? Read our related article, 8 powerful phrases of emotionally intelligent leaders. ]

1. Turn to your customers 

Enterprise Houston CIO of the Year

Kristy Simonette, Senior Vice President of Strategic Services and CIO, Camden Property Trust: Sources of innovation beyond the Camden walls come from all of the likely suspects. We attend progressive conferences featuring futurist speakers; we tap into relationships we have with VC firms backing start-ups within the multi-family space; and we look at the hospitality and retail industries for inspiration. However, the best ideas come from our customers. We have very high customer engagement through many channels, including: surveys, annual ethnographic studies and co-creation workshops. We ask our customers – the residents of our 60,000 apartments – what THEY want, and then we pilot ideas and solutions. 

One example of this is the demand for a smart building access solution – think curb-to-couch access using only your smartphone. No more parking garage remotes, card keys, fobs or keys … just an app on your smartphone that allows residents to enter into their community and apartment, including bonus functionality to grant visitors temporary or permanent access with a text. We went on the hunt for a smart access platform we could leverage and manage all of our apartments, but it just didn't exist. Instead of defeat, we are incubating our own solution which will be deployed to our portfolio! This just proves the saying, necessity is the mother of invention.  

2. Look outside your industry; ask vendors new questions 

Corporate Houston CIO of the Year

Antonio Marin, Vice President of IT, WCA Waste Corporation: As a CIO, I need to keep an open mind about technologies that are not designed for my industry but could apply to it. I like to learn from my business partners and professional colleagues, asking my team and myself: "How does that apply to us?" For example, at WCA we learned from a colleague in real estate about their application of RPA and machine learning to document and invoice management. Their system was geared and sold as a real estate solution, but the core idea and architecture applied to us – and any business for that matter. 

Additionally, we maintain collaboration sessions with our key vendors who are beginning to get comfortable with us asking uncomfortable questions. We tend to analyze their solutions by asking a lot of "what if" questions and push their technology from a different angle.  We also take our solutions and invite them to enhance them or challenge our findings.

3. Use speaking engagements as learning opportunities

Super Global Houston CIO of the Year

Alfred Lindseth, Senior Vice President of Technology, Process and Risk Management, Plains All American: I am constantly looking to expand my network and collaborate in ways to bring us new ideas, help solve our problems, or advance us in meaningful ways. These days that's usually the only reason I agree to speak or facilitate at events or gatherings (with an exception being causes I care about). For example, I am on the leadership team at the Evanta CIO Summits and lead two boardroom sessions, one in Operational Technology (OT) cybersecurity and another on transformational initiatives. These are two areas which are high priority to us, so it provided an opportunity to validate our ideas and approach, as well as hearing how others were attacking the same issues. I am leading a cyber OT team right now for a National Petroleum Council project for the U.S. Department of Energy, which has given me a glimpse into other management systems and helps our internal transformational effort. 

Additionally, I am engaged with some partners out of Austin where I get a good look at startups and modern technology, which is important in crafting Plains strategy. I don't want to work problems from scratch if someone else has already invested a lot of time and effort – if I can help it. But to truly have a dialogue, you must have something of value to offer as well.

4. Take a customer zero approach 

Global Houston CIO of the Year

Scott Crowder, Senior Vice President and CIO, BMC: Our internal BMC IT organization has a customer zero approach, where we collaborate closely with our research and development team to test all our software before it goes out to customers. This enables our team to create bi-directional partnerships with not only our internal customers, but also our external customers, including our product partners. 

We also seek partnerships with companies that share the same challenges. We believe in developing trusted relationships with our product partners by keeping open communication on business activities such as issues, opportunities, and collaborative activities. With this approach, our team is able to develop fresh and innovative ideas with our partners. The process concludes by developing solutions that ultimately transform the way we work and operate at BMC IT and make available as services to the BMC community.

5. Create strategic partnerships with third-party vendors

Large Enterprise Houston CIO of the Year

Sameer Purao, CIO, Austin Industries: Innovation requires a different mindset for exploration, risk-taking, failure, and most importantly, a passion for making a change. We have handpicked key members to build a dedicated team for evaluating and building innovative technology solutions for Austin. This team actively participates in technology forums and workshops to stay up-to-date with the rapid digital advancements. We also collaborate with our peer companies to understand technology trends within and across the industry. 

Additionally, we have strategic partnerships with three third-party vendors who are willing to invest in developing and piloting leading-edge technology solutions which would push our industry to a new level of disruption. Intern recruiting is another great source of seeking "out of the box" ideas from the dreamers who are passionately looking to make a difference in the world. For example, we recently had an intern develop a solution to digitize field operations leveraging a virtual reality product. At Austin, we believe that it is important to cultivate a culture for innovation, enabling our employees and partners to openly collaborate.

6. Evaluate emerging technology closely 

Nonprofit/Public Sector Houston CIO of the Year 

Myra Davis, Senior Vice President and CIO, Texas Children's Hospital: We are actively taking several steps to bring emerging technologies into our organizations. Currently, we are socializing new solutions brought to us by our technology partners. We're investigating ways to incorporate technologies such as artificial intelligence, Alexa, RPA, and virtual reality to name a few. We're working with our clinical and business partners to assess what it will take to implement those technologies and make them successful in our environment. Importantly, we are focusing on what a successful technology operating model would look like once those digital solutions are implemented. We're not just incorporating technology for technology's sake. We believe in comprehensive solutions that encompass technology, people, and process. We've had success with this approach recently, and are just weeks away from implementing telemedicine visits for our health plan members. 

[ Why is adaptability the new leadership power skill? Read our report from HBR Analytic Services: Transformation Masters: The New Rules of CIO Leadership ]

WV Collegiate and High School Business Plan Competition winners announced - WV News

Posted: 12 Apr 2019 05:30 PM PDT

FAIRMONT — The winners of this year's West Virginia Statewide Collegiate and High School Business Plan Competition were announced Friday evening at the Robert H. Mollohan Research Center after a day of presentations by teams from high schools and colleges across the state.

Tara St. Clair, a senior program manager at West Virginia University's BrickStreet Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, attended the competition.

"It was extremely successful, and we're proud of everyone who presented here today," St. Clair said.

To participate in the competition, high school teams had to prepare online proposals for potential small businesses. Ten teams were chosen as finalists, and they advanced to Friday's competition, where the top two teams won $10,000 scholarships.

One of the winning teams was comprised of Buckhannon-Upshur High School seniors Zachary Wellman and Carter Glover, who developed a business plan for Invisible Castle Gaming.

"We're absolutely thrilled," Glover said. "I don't even know how to really word it. It just feels amazing."

The two said they focused their business plan on creating a local tabletop gaming store in Fairmont, putting emphasis on the store's safe, inclusive nature.

"There's that focal point of a community where people can buy games and play them," Glover said. "Basically, that was our focus — to create a gaming store where everyone can come together and enjoy their time."

Wellman and Glover, both of whom will be attending Fairmont State University in the fall, said they are still discussing whether to take their business idea to the next level.

St. Clair said that even though high school students are a few years away from attaining a college degree, it's never too early to get them involved in business development.

"We're trying to teach them the skills they need," she said. "We're hoping they go to college and then open up the business. … We're really trying to mold young minds and create an ecosystem in West Virginia. We're actually working with elementary schools as well. We're trying to get them started on thinking about innovation and entrepreneurship at a young age, and we want that to be instilled in their brains."

In Friday's collegiate-level competition, teams vied to win funding to help them turn their business plans into reality.

One of the collegiate-level winners was West Virginia University graduate student Andrew Rhodes, who hopes to open The Neighborhood Kombuchery, a brewery for the fermented drink kombucha, in Morgantown.

"I love drinking kombucha," Rhodes said. "I've been drinking it for many years — and home-brewing as well. It was underrepresented in the West Virginia market. This is something that would bring influence to Morgantown and help the economy."

Rhodes said he was beyond excited to win $10,000 for his new business.

"I heard this great saying from a snowboarder once: 'I'm pumped to be stoked.' I'm super excited, and I can't wait to start ordering equipment and opening my brewery," Rhodes said.

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