IBE students pitch businesses to bankers

The three student-made businesses affiliated with the Integrated Business Experience Program at Minnesota State University, Mankato pitched their ideas to several representatives from United Prairie bankers Thursday in hopes of obtaining a loan.

Fit Fruit, Kato Kozy and Horns Up are the three IBE businesses this fall that students created and used their entrepreneurial minds to operate a full-functioning business.

With 100% of the proceeds going to a charity of their choice, these students have been working since the semester began to create a physical product and develop a marketing plan.

“It has allowed me to get out of my shell and lead people, which is something I’ve always loved doing,”said  Izzy Leonard, CEO of Fit Fruit. 

Fit Fruit COO Jack Wohnoutka said there were several challenges in creating a business from scratch. 

“A big thing is dealing with problems and solutions and managing them as a team,” he said. “Everybody pitched in and we did run into some boundaries and had to figure out how to get around them.”

The products they will be selling include shaker bottles, stickers and sweatshirts. They chose to donate proceeds to Feeding Our Communities Partners (FOCP), which is an organization that aims to fight youth hunger. 

Horns Up plans to sell fanny packs and cooler backpacks. Their charity of choice is the Blue Earth Nicollet County Humane Society.

Kato Kozy, an apparel brand focused on comfort as well as fashionable design, will donate proceeds to Leisure Education for Exceptional People (LEEP) a nonprofit that provides inclusive opportunities for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities in the Greater Mankato Area

Pitching their businesses to the representatives of United Prairie is some feat.

“We look for confidence and that they have collectively worked as a group on what they’re presenting,” Jamie Germscheid, Vice President Business Banker at United Prarie Bank, said. “It’s important that they understand their financials and business plans without getting tripped up on some of the questions we ask them.”

However, the students have unique circumstances as their market audience is their own peers.

“They’re obviously younger, also with being on campus they have a target market they can easily market to as well as their friends and family,” Spenser Bradley, Market President at United Prarie Bank, said.

The release date of these items is still unknown but expected to arrive by the end of the month if not sooner.

Header Photo: Students who created the Fit Fruit business pitch their products to the United Prarie representatives. (Lilly Anderson/The Reporter)

Write to Julia Barton at

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