Rock Creek Ostrich Ranch named winner of the 3D competition

April 11, 2014

A plan to offer an alternative red meat to consumers took the top prize in the first-ever 3D Emporia business venture competition on Friday night.

Emporia State students Nakita Elwood, a junior sociology major from Madison, and Teri Whitson, a senior accounting student from Emporia, received the grand prize of $4,000 for their Rock Creek Ostrich Farm project. The teammates made their final pitch in front of judges and more than 100 people who gathered for a gala event at Emporia State University.

Placing second and winning $2,000 was Joshua Williams, a computer design and development student from Flint Hills Technical College student from Emporia, who presented Williams Web Development. Team Biker — Emporia State students Soojin Bae, a senior business management major from Pohang, South Korea; Jeffrey Miller, a senior business management student from Shawnee; and Preston Mossman, a senior business administration major from Topeka — took home the third-place prize of $1,000.

Also announced at the gala was the first-ever Spirit Award that recognized the entrepreneurial spirit and the risks an individual takes when building a business and creating value for the Emporia Community. This award was presented to Jeremy Rusco of Dynamic Discs.

The 3D Emporia Competition, which stands for Dream It – Design It – Develop It, focuses on cultivating the entrepreneurial spirit of students from Emporia State and Flint Hills Technical College. The competition is a partnership between the School of Business at Emporia State, the Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce & Convention and Visitors Bureau, and was underwritten by ESB Financial.

Jim Wayman, president and CEO, ESB Financial, congratulated the winners of the competition “ESB applauds the creativity of the students at Emporia State University and Flint Hills Technical College who have taken their dreams to reality. We are here to help each new small business become successful. You dream the dream...we'll help make it come true.”

One exciting feature of the 3D event was that it brought students in from both higher education institutions in Emporia.

“The 3D competition is a great opportunity for students to get a feel for what it takes to develop an entrepreneurial plan and work through it to make a concept a viable business. It enables them to put an idea together and know that they have some help in making it successful,” explained Dr. Dean Hollenbeck, president and CEO of Flint Hills Technical College.

In late February, 31 teams submitted idea proposals to a panel of judges who selected 20 finalists to advance. On April 3 and 4, the finalists each had 20 minutes to give a verbal pitch to the panel of local judges, who narrowed the competitors down to three.

Steve Sauder, president of Emporia’s Radio Stations, Inc., and judge for 3D, explained, “Judging the 3D competition was an honor and very interesting. Watching ideas grow and take flight was fun. Most impressive to me was the passion each and every student expressed throughout the event.”

Joining Sauder on the judging panel was Dr. Nathan Woolard, director of Leadership Studies at Emporia State; Lisa Brumbaugh, director of the Kansas Small Business Development Center located at Emporia State; and Tina Khan, director of Adult Education and Workforce Training Center at Flint Hills Technical College.

Khan explained, “This competition was a great example of educational ingenuity; thinking outside of the box is just what these students have done! The path the students traveled to work on designing projects, collecting feedback, modifying ideas has been a real learning experience. Collaboration in our community such as this is why I’m proud to be an Emporian.”

When selecting the final teams, judges based their decision on the concept of the team’s idea, its feasibility, market potential, the business model they created and the team’s ability to convey their idea to the panel of judges. Using the same criteria, the judges ranked the three finalists as follows, after hearing their final 5-minute verbal pitch at the Gala event:

“The 3D competition has been largely successful. We were very excited to be able to bring an academic competition to the students of Emporia State University and Flint Hills Technical College,” said Dr. Kristie Ogilvie, dean of the School of Business. “We saw a wide array of concepts that I truly believe will turn into operational businesses. I am looking forward to seeing how our teams pursue their ideas in the future and turn their dreams into a reality.”

President and CEO of the Emporia Area Chamber, Jeanine McKenna, spoke on the Chamber’s involvement in the event. “It was the goal of the Emporia Area Chamber and Visitors Bureau to connect students with the outstanding business people in our community, in hopes of reaching our mission here at the Chamber, which is to create an environment for business and community success. I think we have made great strides in that direction and look forward to bringing everyone together again next year.”

On April 30, the top three Emporia teams will compete against teams from Kansas State University in the Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge in Manhattan. This competition features the top three teams from 3D Emporia and the top three teams of the K-State Launch, a similar idea competition held at Kansas State University.

“The inaugural 3D Emporia competition has been a win-win all around,” said Dr. Michael D. Shonrock, president of Emporia State University. “It showed everyone — faculty, staff and students at both higher ed institutions and the local business community — how much can happen through collaboration.”

For more information on the 3D competition, please contact Jessica Buchholz at 341-5371 or




Team Biker consists of Emporia State students Soojin Bae, a senior business management major from Pohang, South Korea; Jeffrey Miller, a senior business management student from Shawnee, Kan.; and Preston Mossman, a senior business administration major from Topeka, Kan.

Miller explained, “We wanted to enter 3D to represent the School of Business and to utilize the skills we have been learning in the classroom.”

When reflecting on their experience in the competition, Bae said, “3D has really challenged us to think more critically. My perspective about what it means to be an entrepreneur has definitely expanded. Working on budgets, surveys, additional market research and creating the business plan has been a great, eye-opening experience.”

In January the team started brainstorming services and products that would be beneficial to their fellow students, particularly international students.

Mossman explained, “Most international students in Emporia are without vehicles. Our original idea was to create a ride-sharing service so that domestic students could conveniently provide transportation to international students.”

After conducting market research and learning about the potential liabilities, their idea morphed into a bicycle rental kiosk. In order to rent a bicycle, customers would simply need a credit card to swipe at the kiosk. Upon swiping their card, a touchscreen panel would prompt users with easy to follow steps, gathering contact information, presenting rental rates, taking a deposit and automatically releasing a no-hassle bicycle, ready to ride. Bikes could be rented at hourly, daily, monthly, and even semester-long rates.


Rock Creek Ostrich Ranch

Nakita Elwood of Madison, Kan., and Teri Whitson of Emporia, Kan., decided to enter 3D Emporia as part of a project for their Global Leadership course at Emporia State University. Elwood is a junior sociology major, and Whitson is a senior accounting student with a minor in information systems. They are both pursuing leadership minors. The two saw the competition as a way to further develop Elwood’s business idea, Rock Creek Ostrich Ranch.

“We make a great team,” said Elwood. “I’ve been working on researching the concept for a while and have been in the ‘seed’ stage since November, when I bought my first breeding ostriches. What I didn’t have was the financial mindset — something that Teri definitely has. We balanced each other well.”

Rock Creek Ostrich Ranch aims to meet the growing demand for an alternative red meat, while providing good stewardship of natural resources. Because of its beef-like texture and low cholesterol and fat content, there is a large global market for ostrich. These animals are also easier to maintain than cattle and produce more. As one of only five ostrich farms in Kansas, Rock Creek Ostrich Ranch will be able to capitalize on the growing demand. The Ranch currently maintains 300 acres of land near Madison, appropriate for raising breeder sets. When the breeder sets are producing eggs and those chicks reach maturity, the ranch will begin its revenue cycle. They are currently cultivating and strengthening relationships with buyers and vendors.


Williams Web Development

Joshua Williams, a computer design and development student at Flint Hills Technical College, began developing his product, a scheduling suite, during the summer of 2013 as an intern at FHTC.

Williams explained, “I spent the summer rebuilding websites for Flint Hills Technical College and quickly learned that they needed a new system for reserving and scheduling rooms.”

Williams approached several staff members about working on-contract for the school to develop a new scheduling program. When he received the approval in October, the native Emporian began developing his idea.

Williams aims to develop a web-based service that will supply all of the scheduling and booking needs of any given educational institution, including day-to-day classes, meetings and public events. While his scheduling suite was originally designed to accommodate higher education institutions, Williams explains the product could be modified to accommodate businesses, hospitals, hotels, government offices and many other organizations with some minor configuration changes.

“The product itself is highly expandable and can be customized to fit any organization small or large.”

So far Williams’ product has consistently operated 105 percent faster than his biggest competitors, with 15 percent less network traffic. Unlike his competitors, Williams plans to sell his licenses to institutions as a whole, instead of on a per-computer basis, allowing for more flexibility and convenience.



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