Public observing the presentations

The Riley County 4-H hosted their 3rd annual Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge at Pottorf Hall in Cico Park on Thursday.

15 Manhattan High School students got the chance to present their ideas for a business or product to a panel of judges and the public.  The judges included area entrepreneurs and business owners.

4-H Agent John Jobe says the contest is a pitch competition that is similar to the TV show Shark Tank. After presenting their ideas, the students are then judged on three different categories.  The first is a formally written business plan, second is their ability to deliver a trade-show pitch, and third is delivering their presentation to a panel of judges.

“The capability is to put together some type of original idea and put it in a business format, but that is just the tip of the iceberg,” says Jobe, “The real skill being developed here is the capability to proficiently and efficiently speak to someone.”

One of these business ideas is a paintball course that has trampolines on the floor called Splatter Bounce.  This idea came from MHS student Zeya Sharp who says he wanted to combine two things he loved to do.

MHS Student Zeya Sharp and his idea for Splatter Bounce

“Without this event, I don’t think I would have been able to come up with this idea,” says Sharp, “This event let me come up with its name and see it all come together.”

Sharp says he wanted his idea to be something unique and different, but also special to him.

After the students showed off their ideas to the trade-show judges, they were then taken behind closed doors to present their idea to another panel of judges for 4 minutes.

When the presentations were done a Q&A was held with the trade-show judges.  The judges were Abram Mertz of Livestock Direct, Jeff Koenig of Open 4 Business, and Jill Mason who is the former owner of Confetti and Cashmere.   They were asked questions about how they got their businesses started, their failures, and where they got their startup money.

Trade-show Judges (from left to right) Abram Mertz, Jeff Koenig, and Jill Mason

With the Q&A over it was time to present the winners.  Jobe started with the second place runner up prize of $500, which went to Lexi Feather of Fancy Feathers.  She also won the trade-show prize which was voted on by the public.  The next prize was runner up with Clarissa Nivens taking home the $750 with her product Popables. The final prize of first place and $1000 went to Ra Ma and his business idea of Catfe. Catfe is a cat cafe in which cats hang around a coffee shop.  Ma said the location would also double as an adoption center for the cats.

Ma will now head to the state challenge on April 30th for a chance to win an $4,000.  All of the students who participated in this event will also have a chance to enter the state challenge as a wild card.

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