Skip to main content

ESU Student Places in Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge

Emporia State students posing with giant checks

An Emporia State business administration student took third place in the Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge recently. Kendra Kratzberg, a senior from New Strawn, earned $1,000 for her idea “ShowUP.”

Her executive summary explains her venture idea: “The amount of children in foster care continues to grow at an alarming rate, which has completely overwhelmed the system. The bottom line is that our children’s needs are not being sufficiently advocated for, and our foster parents are not being appropriately supported. ShowUP is an application software designed to help solve these issues by allowing every caregiver within a foster child’s life to effectively collaborate and communicate the child’s needs by easily tracking the child’s behaviors, triggers, and progress while in care. With this software, foster parents would gain an extra level of support, collaboration, and documentation while the children’s needs would be more readily recognized and advocated for.”

Kratzberg says the project was a good challenge for her.

“I love that this challenge brought me out of my comfort zone and into a place that has provided me with new opportunities and a passion I wouldn’t have gained without it. I’ve been tremendously challenged, humbled, and grateful for this experience and all I continue to learn through it,” said Kratzberg.

To qualify for the virtual state competition hosted by Kansas State University, Kratzberg placed second in the Emporia Entrepreneur Challenge on March 18 and received $1,500. The Emporia Entrepreneur Challenge is a venture idea competition that is open to all students from Emporia State University and Flint Hills Technical College.

For the first round of the competition, 37 individuals or teams submitted a three-page executive summary on Feb. 19. Teams were judged on Business Model, Product/Service Offering, Feasibility, Justification, Specificity, and Originality.

By Feb. 26, a panel of graders selected 15 semifinalist teams to advance to the next round of the competition. During this semifinal round, students had two weeks to redefine their big ideas based on graders' feedback, and students worked with faculty to further develop their concept.

This round of the competition consisted of these top 15 teams submitting virtual oral pitches to a new set of judges by Mar. 11. The top three winners were announced on Mar. 18. That same evening, a virtual Community Showcase was held where these top three teams presented their video pitches to area business representatives for constructive feedback and questions to improve their venture idea. Thank you to Jeanine McKenna, President & CEO of the Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce; Kent Heermann, President, Emporia Regional Development Association of East Central Kansas; Brad Kraft, President & CEO, Hopkins; and Brandon Khan, Vice President of Commercial Lending, Lyon County State Bank for helping these teams with their ideas in their pursuit of placing at the state level.

Lauren Diaz, a senior accounting and management major from Rose Hill, also competed at the state event. Diaz won the local EEC and $2,500 for her idea “SnoGo.”

As written in her executive summary, “In the Midwest, we experience the best and the worst of all seasons, and we do our best to make sure our furry companions can handle the elements; everything from doggie jackets to undercoat brushes are how we make that happen. What about the dogs who just can’t seem to go in the snow? That's why you need an outdoor SnoGo. The SnoGo is a heated turf-topped potty pad that is meant to stay outside to provide a warm snow free space to keep your pup going outside even if it is snowing. No one wants their dogs to feel uncomfortable, but you also don't want to use traditional turf potty pads that let your dog get comfortable going inside the house, creating a potty-training nightmare. The outdoor SnoGo is durable and waterproof allowing it to be outside during those winter months, keeping your pup comfortable and potty trained during those snowy and cold winter days.”

Kaden Ott, a sophomore economics major from Lebo, took third place and $500 in the EEC with his idea of “Turn Tire.”

According to his executive summary, “The purpose of starting Turn Tires is to make use of thousands of wasted tires that are thrown away every year. There are over 27,000 vehicles in the Emporia area alone, each of which produce more used tires every year. Turn Tires is a company designed to not only collect used tires from the local area, but also repurpose those tires for new uses.”

Dr. Douglass Smith chaired the Entrepreneur Challenge committee.

“Being the adaptive university isn't just a nice phrase, it's a way of life for our community,” said Smith. “We are blessed that we have students that embrace and embody being adaptive. In this year's Entrepreneurial Challenge, our students have adapted to our new normal and embraced the opportunities to be innovative with their entrepreneurial plans. And thanks to the generosity of Steve and Bobbi Sauder, we are able to use our new space, Bobbi & Steve Sauder Center for Entrepreneurial Development, to develop and grow the next generation of entrepreneurs.”

The EEC Committee included Dr. Douglass Smith, ESU EEC Director; Dr. Jeff Muldoon, ESU; Dr. Sheryl Lidzy, ESU; Dr. Carol Lucy, ESU; Beth Ginter, ESU; and Kim Dhority, Flint Hills Technical College.

A big thank you to these judges who donated their time:

  • Executive Summary Graders: Dr. Marian Riedy and Dr. Will Senn, School of Business; and Lori Moore, Business Technology Instructor, Flint Hills Technical College.
  • Oral Pitches: Eddie Garcia, entrepreneur, Topeka; Shane Garrison, ESU alumni, Senior Internal Auditor, Lawrence; Larry Eisenhauer, ESU alumni, former judge at Iowa Judicial Branch; Cindy Eisenhauer, ESU alumni, former Chief of Staff for Governor, state of Iowa; Susann Eisenhauer, ESU alumni, Atlanta, GA; Greg Miller, ESU alumni, realtor, Kansas City; Chris Omni, Socialprenuer, Florida; and Stephen Witherspoon, entrepreneur, Wichita.
  • Community Showcase: Jeanine McKenna, President and CEO, Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce; Brandon Khan, VP of Commercial Lending at LCSB and Kent Heermann, President of Regional Development Association.

To view the top oral pitches:

To learn more about the EEC:

The Elevator Challenge

As a complement to the EEC, 33 individuals/teams participated in the Elevator Challenge on Feb. 11 where they presented a 27-second live pitch on Zoom. The judges for this virtual competition this year were Lisa Brumbaugh, Kansas Small Business Development Center at ESU; and Carissa McAfee, ESU School of Business Graduate Advisor and previous EEC winner.

The following Elevator Challenge winners each received $100:

  • Best Idea: Payton Marshall, freshman undecided major, with “Mask-lace,” an adjustable lightweight facemask that can convert into either a fashionable necklace, bracelet, or even a hair tie.
  • Best Pitch: Kendra Kratzberg, senior business administration major, with “Show Up.”
  • Judge's Choice: Hana Risley, senior communication major, with “Bake & Take,” a mobile dessert food truck/trailer for the community and special events all around Emporia.