By Hailey Dixon, for the Lincoln Sentinel-Republican
Lincoln Junior-Senior High School senior Dylan Babcock took home first place at the first annual Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge on March 6.
The event, which was sponsored by the Lincoln County Economic Development Foundation and Network Kansas, showcased Lincoln County high schoolers and their potential business ideas at the Finch Theatre and Lincoln Art Center.
“In terms of the process, from start to end … [since January], they’ve been working on a business,” said Kelly Larson, LCEDF Executive Director.
LJSHS and Sylvan-Lucas Unified High School students presented 24 different concepts to 21 judges, who were local business owners, Larson said.
“I was impressed with what the kids put together,” she said.
The event setup, Larson said, was similar to “Shark Tank,” the hit television show on ABC. Other counties in Kansas have been putting on this event previously, but this was the first time in Lincoln County, Larson said.
Larson said the students’ presentations included an executive summary—which detailed revenue costs and a timeline projection—a trade show booth and a formal presentation.
“Each of those components was judged separately,” Larson said.
Larson said the opportunity for the students to present to the judges their ideas was beneficial for them.
“They had to do a lot of thinking on their feet … I think it was a very good challenge for them.”
The judges used an online portal to rank the business ideas, Larson said.
Babcock’s idea was called “Java Generators,” which is a machine that allows users to customize their coffee in a variety of ways, such as making it hot or iced, or adding various flavors.
He said it is “one machine that does it all.”
Babcock said the concept is similar to the Coca-Cola Freestyle drink dispenser.
Regarding his first place finish in the competition, Babcock said he was “surprised” as he thought there were several other innovative and creative ideas as well.
The second place winner was Aundrea Haberer, who received a prize of $300, from Sylvan-Lucas Unified High School. Harberer’s idea was called “AJ Acres.”
Third place winners were Logan Batchman and Aleah Wehrman, also from SLUHS. The duo came up with “L and A Kitchen Supplies” for the competition. Batchman and Wehrman split a $200 prize.
Going forward, Babcock, who received a monetary prize of $750 for his first place placing, will present his idea at the state-wide Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge in Manhattan on April 24.
“I’m a little nervous for the state [competition],” Babcock said.
Larson said the second and third place winners from the Lincoln County Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge have the potential to possibly compete at the statewide competition through an application process.
There are a variety of prizes to be won at the state competition in April, Babcock said.
LCEDF plans to host this event again next year, Larson said.
“I thought [this year’s event] was very successful,” she said.
She advises students interested in participating in the event next year “to go out and talk to business owners—who are in that [specific] industry.”