Kansas students shine in entrepreneurship challenge

The Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge (KEC) recently celebrated two Great Bend Middle School students, Sydney Bailey and Callie Umphres, for their exceptional entrepreneurial ventures. Bailey and Umphres, guided by their mentor, developed a unique business plan that clinched a top spot in the challenge. Their success highlights the potential of young minds and serves as an inspiration to students across Kansas.

KEC took place at K-State Student Union with over $75,000 in prizes distributed among 31 students out of 81 participants from 72 businesses. In an exciting twist, students from the 2023-2024 College of Business Administration and Kansas 4-H competition year took part, adding to the diversity of participants and enhancing the competitive spirit of the event.

To qualify for the KEC competition, students either win a Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge (YEC) series competition or become one of the 16 wildcard entrants selected based on the quality of their executive summary and recorded elevator pitch.

The event reached its highest-ever participation in its 11th iteration, with 1,159 students from Kansas joining, a significant increase from previous years.

Students from elementary school to high school seniors presented their unique perspectives and innovative ideas. This event not only raised environmental awareness but also served as an invaluable platform for young minds.

Experienced individuals, including local entrepreneurs, public sector partners, and teachers, evaluated participants based on their executive summaries and simulated boardroom presentations. Sarah Maass, 4-H youth development’s program director, praised the event as a remarkable learning opportunity for young entrepreneurs across the state.

Various student projects were recognized, including the ‘Aerial View’ project by Sydney Bailey and Callie Umphres that made it to the finals. Other top projects included Hailie Mick’s ‘Made in Minutes’, which won the Tradeshow People’s Choice Award, ‘Delectably Dried’ that secured second place, and ‘Cowgirl Creations’ in third.