Entrepreneurial Olympics

Jan 21, 2008

The gloves were off as young entrepreneurs competed for glory and cash prizes in the e-Kettering Challenge.

Entrepreneurs of every stripe competed for recognition and cash prizes in the e-Kettering Challenge. Whether it was helping college students find safe affordable housing, developing an emergency kit for disaster relief, renovating a student hang out, or mentoring urban youth, young entrepreneurs went toe-to-toe presenting and pitching their ideas.

Student teams who made it through semi-final competitions to qualify for the final event where each team gave a 15-minute presentation of their work and had 15 minutes to answer judges' questions.

The “celebrity judges” included Kyle Schwulst ’02, president and CEO of Electrojet, Michael Bleau, of SharkLids, and Peter Scott, director of Kettering's Fuel Cell and Advanced Technology Incubator.

After the Powerpoint presentations were done and the questions were answered, prizes were awarded for first through fifth place. Winners were:

  • In First Place ($2,000 prize) - Ratemystudentrental.com, designed and developed by Kristen Winter, of Alpena, Mich., Steven Schwartz, of Wilmington, N.C., and Blake Gowing, of Colton, N.Y.;
  • In Second Place ($1,500 prize) - TREK Travel Ready Emergency Kit (for disaster relief) designed and developed by Ann Call, of Westmont, Ill., and Jason Endsley, of Dublin, Ohio;
  • In Third Place ($500) -  a re-design of student hang out BJ's Café, designed and developed by Brad Sewell, of West Alexandria, Ohio, and Scott Lyons, of Clarkston, Mich.;
  • In Fourth Place and Social Entrepreneurship mention ($1,000) – Nuevo, a social service agency for urban youth aged 7-25, designed and developed by Reisha Ivory, of Flint, Mich.;
  • And in Fifth Place ($500) – Freeconnect, a wireless continuity testing solution, designed and developed by Steve Herschleb, of Farmington Hills, Mich.

The e-Kettering Challenge was co-sponsored by the University and by the Kettering Entrepreneur Society (KES, www.kesociety.com), a student-run organization of about 60 students, as well as faculty, alumni and industry mentors, that works to promote an entrepreneurial culture at Kettering based on innovation and social values.

Faculty advisers for KES include: Dr. Massoud Tavakoli, professor of Mechanical Engineering, Dr. Sung-Hee Park, assistant professor of Business, Dr. William Riffe, professor of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering and Dr. Andrew Borchers ‘80, associate professor of Business.

KES is a by-product of the e-Kettering Initiative, designed to encourage engineering, science and business management students to fine-tune their business ideas. The e-Kettering Initiative is funded by the Kern Family Foundation through the Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network (KEEN).

The e-Kettering Initiative has already fostered KES, an MBA course in entrepreneurship, a speaker series and a business plan competition at Kettering. The Initiative is currently developing an entrepreneurial minor at the undergraduate and graduate level and working on pre-college programs focused on entrepreneurship. In the long-term, according to Borchers, plans include an on-campus entrepreneurial center and an entrepreneurial influence throughout the curriculum.

Written by Dawn Hibbard