The Big Ideas Challenge was held Wednesday in the Ostrander Auditorium that gave a platform to passionate entrepreneurs for a chance to win the grand prize of $10,000 or $2,000 for the People’s Choice Award. Primate Longboards (Jackson Lloyd Jones) was awarded both prizes. Five finalist had the opportunity to showcase their businesses.
The first to take stage was John. J. Ruprecht (automotive engineering technology major), ProtoTech Solutions. He wants to bring “affordable 3D printing” and an “online marketplace to offer pre-printed products.”
Alexandria Oldenburg (graduated spring of 2016, zoology), ‘MESSY Dog LLC’, has been in the community providing “force-free” and “low-stress” dog training. She is co-owner of ‘MESSY Dog LCC’ with Antonia Langr. Their focus is to provide “positive reinforcement, science-based methods of dog training for dogs and their owners.”
“It was a little nerve-wracking at first,” Oldenburg said. “But it helped me work on my business plan and it was an overall great experience.”
Tony Rathmanner (business management), Caleb Johnson (business management), Katie Lloyd (business management), Lauren Kramer (business management), and Ryan Hoehn (accounting and business management) presented ‘The Hub’. This business’s idea was to have a “community ice skating rink in the winter that transforms to a skate park in the summer” located in Old Town Mankato. It would also try to create a welcoming environment for “music, art, family activities and food truck services” in hopes to revitalize Old Town.
Shaharia Chowdhury (computer and information technology), ‘Webytor’, is a “website builder, or application, where people can create their website with a private domain or subdomain without having any coding knowledge or website layout knowledge.” Chowdhury also believed that having the opportunity to participate in the Big Ideas Challenge helped him “learn how to speak in front of judges and speak about my business plan.”
Primate Longboards, Jackson Lloyd Jones (international business), is a “longboarding company that manufactures and sells hand-crafted organic longboards. Their mission is to provide customers with longboards that are both reliable and exceptional; while supporting the community and positively impacting the environment by lowering emission rates and planting trees.”
The event was hosted by the Director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Dr. Yvonne Cariveau, who also helped organizing the Big Ideas Challenge. Judges included; Pamela Bishop, Vice President of Economic Development Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, Christie Lloyd Ernst, Vice President of Property Management of Lloyd Companies, Sarah Richards, President and CEO of Jones Metal Products, Josh Sherburne, business partner at Abdo, Eick & Meyers, LLP, and Stuart Sneer, President of United Prairie Bank.