E-Community Students Compete in the Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge State Championship

Manhattan, KS – The Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge (KEC) State Championship, hosted by the Kansas State University Center for the Advancement of Entrepreneurship, and sponsored by the Kansas Masonic Foundation, took place virtually on April 27th and awarded high school entrepreneurs with over $20,000 in prize money. This statewide competition featured high school and middle school students from 46 communities in Kansas.

Forty-nine businesses consisting of 70 students presented their business concepts. Student teams submitted a written executive summary and pre-recorded elevator pitch. 11 finalist teams went on to present in a live, virtual mock board room round with judges.

“The Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge was able to move forward this year with a live, virtual mock board room despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the virtual event couldn’t have gone better! The judges were engaged and asked thought-provoking questions, and you could tell the students enjoyed their opportunity to present. Each young entrepreneur was extremely talented and we are in awe of their energy, passion, and drive,” said Amara Kniep, Manager of E-Community Programs for NetWork Kansas.

Each team that participated in the 2021 KEC will receive $250. The eleven teams that participated in the live, virtual Mock Board Room will receive an additional $250 (for a total of $500).

There were two teams that stood out to each of the judges as showcasing exceptional entrepreneurial characteristics. Those two teams will receive an additional $1,000 prize (for a $1,500 award total). They were:

  • Bits of Thread, Audrey Manry and Sarah Manry (Larned High School, Pawnee County);
  • Wonderfully Made, Carolina Barraza (Pike Valley High School, Republic County).

Other finalists that competed in the live mock board room round were:

  • Beauty by Jae, Jaelyn Rumback (Norton County);
  • Bettles’ Mobile Car Detailing, Mason Bettles (Saline County);
  • Frack Sweet Scents, Cooper Frack (Norton County);
  • Jessi D Photography, Jessi Dalke (Marion County);
  • Make It Sweet, Grace Whitham (Greeley County);
  • Morr2Grow, Kennedy Morrison and Campbell Morrison (Thomas County);
  • Perfect Events & Catering, Kennedy Holstein (Scott County);
  • Poels Pellets, Gabby Poels (Phillips County);
  • Unboxd, Aditya Joshi and Varun Verma (Sedgwick County).

The goal of the Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge (YEC) Series is to expose Kansas middle school and high school students to entrepreneurship and give them hands-on experience. Students that competed in their local YEC Series event automatically qualified for the KEC State Championship. Fifteen wildcard applications were also selected to compete through an executive summary open review.

“It is exhilarating to cheer students on as they explore their interests and cultivate their passions into workable business models through Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge projects. Students must use creativity, ingenuity, practicality, and presentation skills as they learn incredible life skills and are introduced to the idea of entrepreneurship as a viable (and often preferable) career choice. The real-world problem-solving skills students gain are tremendous and will help them thrive as they move forward in life,” said Christy Hopkins, Director of Greeley County Community Development.

The 2020-2021 YEC Series consisted of 44 local level competitions and 898 student participants, which culminated in the KEC State Championship on Tuesday, April 27th, held virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions. The event was organized by K-State with sponsorship from the Kansas Masons. The YEC Series is in its eighth year and continues to grow each season.

For more information, contact Amara Kniep, Manager of E-Community Programs at NetWork Kansas, at 316-425-8832 or akniep@networkkansas.com. For more information about NetWork Kansas or the E-Community Partnership, visit  www.networkkansas.com 

Wonderfully Made

Learn more about Carolina’s business on her website – https://fullywonderful.com/

Where It All Began

How did Wonderfully Made come about? Well it goes back to an art project that my art class did during the Fall of 2020. We had a small piece of white Sculpey clay that we could create what we wanted. At first, I was struggling to see what to make because it was such a small piece of clay, and I was used to working with slabs of clay to make mugs or bowls. However, I ended up making a sunflower, Why? Well, because I live in Kansas! If you have never been here, let me tell you, there’s a lot it offers, even if it’s pretty flat! Anyways, I really enjoyed working with smaller amounts of clay because I could be really detailed with it.

I was going to start doing more projects with polymer clay in art, but God knew there was more opportunities that could be done with this. I stumbled upon the Instagram account of a polymer clay jewelry store during Small Business Saturday. I was so intrigued by all the different designs, and I started thinking “What if I did that?” The Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge was coming up, and I decided I could do this as a fictional business. At this point, I was still unsure on how successful this business was going to be, but after receiving some feedback, I thought it was worth a shot. Along the way, God just kept nudging me to have faith and continue to pursue this dream of mine. After winning the county YEC, I was able to purchase some of the bigger items I had planned on purchasing WAY later on.

So now here we are. It’s a reality, not just a dream anymore. Wonderfully Made has been and will be a work in progress, but I am ready to serve all of you with creating beautiful earrings. I want to provide you with high-quality earrings that are locally made. One of my goals is to help you find your perfect pair (plus a few more!). Whether you love a bold earring or some simple studs, I want to create the perfect earrings for you. Moreover, I am SO excited to help empower you and others through this new little business.

Carolina <3

P.S. If you have any questions or simply need someone to talk to, email me fully.14.wonderful@gmail.com