Youth entrepreneurs compete

Chad Frey

The annual Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge looked a little different this year — namely moving to primarily an online competition due to COVID-19. 

The overall winner of the Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge  is a new grocery store concept, outlined by Sydney Achilles.

Despite the change, there were 14 entries in the McPherson Chamber of Commerce event which named winners during the week of Christmas. 

During the virtual 2020 YEC hosted by the McPherson Chamber of Commerce, students from the Business and Entrepreneurship Class at McPherson High School competed for prize money and a chance to move on to a state competition.

“It is a unique opportunity to discover the imaginative ideas of local entrepreneurship students” said executive director, Debbie Hawkinson, director of the McPherson Chamber of Commerce.

 Fourteen students from Taylor Stucky’s classes at McPherson High School honed their business plan and submitted a 3-page executive summary.

Business ideas included a bakery, a coffee shop, used shoe store, a family restaurant concept, a power washing company, a boutique, a gymnastics/cheer business and a secure phone case among others. 

The overall winner of the contest is a new grocery store concept, outlined by Sydney Achilles. Achilles entered the contest with Greens Health Grocer, winning $750 and the opportunity to compete in the Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge in April of 2021.

"At Greens Health Grocer, we believe in food that is natural, delicious and fresh directly from local farmers to our shelves" Achilles said. "Food that will connect us with the natural world. There will b no artificial colors, no artificial flavors, no artificial preservatives in any of the food we sell." 

Her business  plan calls for the business to launch in McPherson. 

Ultimately, the top three businesses were won by a very close margin. Third place, and a $250 check went to Adriana Garcia with the hourglass café. Second place was awarded to Hannah Wilson with Cloud 9 Boutique who won $500.

One student, Grace Witte has already launched her on-line business — Decree Boutique — on Instagram for teen apparel and accessories.”

Each student's entry included  research on competitors, information about target markets, structure of the business, production details of the products, marketing strategies, and a financial breakdown of revenue, operating expenses, and net income.

Following the summaries, students gave a 4-minute presentation, including marketing graphics, by way of Zoom. Judges had the chance to ask questions and offer suggestions at the end of each presentation, and then turned in their scoring.

Hawkinson said it was "quite an experience ... we learned what a 'sneakerhead' is and how they fit into a niche market for shoes. [We] discovered that California and New Yourk restaurants typically include an arcade section for the youngsters, and that competitive cheer is a growing sport. I am pretty sure everyone would agree that there is a need for an indestructible phone or tablet case."

The McPherson Chamber of Commerce hosted a local YEC competition as a NetWork Kansas Entrepreneurship (E-) Community Partner.