Technology was the big winner at this year’s College of Human Sciences Entrepreneurship Showcase, with two of the top awards going to ideas for apps for mobile devices.
“It was huge trying to incorporate technology into our businesses,” said Brittany Uitermarkt, a senior in event management. “Our generation just thrives on technology and it seems like our heads are always on the phone. It played a huge part in winning because it was really crucial to incorporate technology into our businesses.”
Twenty-six judges from business, industry, and academia provided feedback to Iowa State University students on their ideas to start a new business or spruce up an existing one at the 13th annual Entrepreneurship Showcase, held last Thursday in LeBaron Hall.
The event featured 39 team and individual entries from 101 students in Linda Niehm’s AESHM 474-574 Entrepreneurship in Human Sciences class. Students competed for cash prizes of up to $200 in eight categories. While not every business idea will materialize, the class aims to develop an entrepreneurial spirit in students.
“If I took anything out of the project, it was very much that starting your own business is a major task that takes a lot of time, a lot of energy, and a lot of dedication,” said Alex Young, a senior event management. “There are a lot of risks that go with it but with risks, there are high rewards.”
Making car repairs easier
This year’s $200 best in show award for a new business start-up idea went to a project called AirMechanic — a mobile app that would bring together car owners and average joes with a knack for cars.
The idea came from event management students Alex Young, Alex Grupe, and Hasan Pickett, who hoped to make car repairs quicker, easier, and cheaper using the same technology that people use with Uber, the app that helps to connect those who need a ride with nearby drivers.
“Getting your car serviced in the traditional sense, you set up an appointment and go to a mechanic,” Young said. “The idea behind our app is to reverse that. In the same way you order an Uber driver, you would order a mechanic.”
Young has personal experience with the problem. He said he has an ancient and quirky car, and spends lots of time scheduling car repairs.
“Fortunately, I have people in my life who can help with minor repairs,” he said. “But not everyone has those kind of people they can tap into. Our mission was to share automotive knowledge.”
Finding food on campus
The Entrepreneurship Showcase also included a “business idea pitch contest” where students had 90 seconds to present their ideas for a new business to industry professionals.
Brittany Uitermarkt and her roommate, Sarah Baker, won the $100 first-place award in the contest. They proposed an app called Hippocampus to help students more easily find food around campus.
“Not only food and cafes and coffee shops within ISU buildings, but food trucks and vendors — what food they have today, specials and promotions,” Uitermarkt said. “It’s just so hard for students, a lot of times we have 20 minutes. It would be good to know what we want to eat today and go there.”
The name “Hippocampus” came from the idea that students search for food like in the game Hungry Hungry Hippos, and because Uitermarkt and Baker wanted students to realize that it’s for college students on campus.
Uitermarkt had another business idea at the showcase that also involved technology. Her proposed business called Rent-N-Click would allow students to rent for $10 their interactive clickers for class — which some teachers use to take attendance or to have students answer questions — rather than buying one for $42.70.
“It’s just a way for students to save money,” she said.
Establishing an iconic coffee house
A team of five students who worked with Bill Malone, owner of Cafe Diem coffee shops in Ames and Ankeny, won “best in show” for a consulting project of an existing business. The team did national research to identify what makes a coffeehouse iconic.
The students — Kendra Liska, Adrienne Fay, Angelica Lawson, Carlye Wigert, and Aaron Rawson — set up a coffee bar at the Entrepreneurship Showcase to help demonstrate their findings of visiting 22 independent coffeehouses and surveying others across the nation.
“Your staff is just as important as your product,” Liska said. “Coffee can be very artisan and if you do not have the proper educated staff, then there is a missed opportunity for your customer to build a relationship not only with the employee but with the product.”
Taking runner-up in the business consulting category was the team of students who worked with Personali-Tees — one of five Humboldt County businesses assisted by students this semester.
Christopher Schon, Kaitlin Clevenger, Brooke DeCarlo, and Rachael Gaffney worked to help Personali-Tees with marketing and branding as part of the outreach effort called the Iowa Retail Initiative, which provides a single point of contact for rural communities and retailers seeking help.
Other students this semester worked with Humboldt Engravings and Gifts, Caribbean Coffee House, Divinity Salon, and Northland Auto and Marine and offered them a “toolkit” of strategies to improve their marketing, branding, and more.
Here’s a full list of winners from this year’s Entrepreneurship Showcase:
Best of Show New Business Start-Up Idea: First place ($200) AirMechanic: Alex Young, Alex Grupe, Hasan Pickett. Runner-Up ($100) Future Scientists: Kyle Hall
Best of Show Consulting Project for an Existing Business: First place ($200) Cafe Diem Consulting Project: Kendra Liska, Adrienne Fay, Angelica Lawson, Carlye Wigert, Aaron Rawson. Runner-up ($100) Personali-Tees: Christopher Schon, Kaitlin Clevenger, Brooke DeCarlo, Rachael Gaffney.
Best Use of Experience Economy Strategies: First place ($100) The GREENhouse: Kara Sloan, Teria Litman, Allison Petersen. Runner-up ($50) The Moral Compass: Michaela Berg, Katelyn Sim, Alexis Romitti.
Technology Innovation Award: First place ($100) PRZM: Genet Jean-Pierre. Runner-up ($50) Caribbean Coffee House: Samantha Wenndt, Breanne Evans, Morgan Mitchell, Michelle Aberle, Dhruti Shah.
Most Sustainable Business Proposal: First place ($100) Auctiontainers, Inc.: Heather Helgren, Halie Behr. Runner-up ($50) Spray Away: Emily Paulson, Jordan Davis.
Best Display and Visual Presentation: First place ($100) Plain & Fancy: Becky Lensch. Runner-up ($50) Jurene Rose Boutique: Hannah Peterson, Kendra Petersen, Rebecca Wrolson.
People’s Choice Award: First place ($100) Sweet Somethings Bakery: Valerie Vander Linden, Bridgett Konradi, Allison Betti. Runner-up ($50) BE Magical Events: Bailey Lewellen.
Business Idea Pitch Contest: First place ($100) Hippocampus: Brittany Uitermarkt and Sarah Baker. Runner-up ($75) Between the Tackles: Nathan Thelen. Honorable Mention ($50) Ace It Remix: Ellie Carver.