Student Entrepreneurs Earn Recognition

The Sixth Appalachian IDEAS [Innovation, Development, Enterprise, Action and Services] Network Showcase, a regional, multi-university, entrepreneurial education initiative, has announced the winners of its competition to develop entrepreneurial ventures that address challenges within local communities. The event, sponsored by The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation, was hosted at Berea College by students in the Entrepreneurship for the Public Good (EPG) program, which creates learning experiences for undergraduate students to practice and implement entrepreneurial leadership in Appalachia.

The first-place prize was for “Sustainable Berea- Neighborhood Food Feasts,” a project created by Berea student Alexandra (Sasha) Solomatova and Dr. Peter H. Hackbert, director of the EPG program. This project, in partnership with Sustainable Berea, is a  community outreach to inform consumers about sustainable foods and purchasing choices available to consumers. Sustainable Berea has developed a community-based tool kit to encourage consumers to become better educated and make good food choices. Solomatova demonstrated a five-tiered revenue stream model that contributes to the not-for-profit organization’s revenue.

The second-place award was for a project to generate clean energy through a portable wind turbine. A team from East Tennessee State University is developing a design that will help Appalachian communities use a portable and easily maintained turbine to provide power in locations where specialized equipment, technical personnel or expensive infrastructures would otherwise make sustainable energy unfeasible. The team members are Jarret Lynch, Adam Aldridge, Seth Greene, Scotty Woodlief and Dr. Michael Seek.

The third place award went to Berea student Sunita Jorsingh-Lawson and Dr. Hackbert for their project “Marketing Living Berea – Festival of Learnshops in Berea Ky.” This project develops a social media  strategy and actionable plan for the Festival of Learnshops to attract tourists interested in learning a range of skills including creative writing, sculpting, dance, woodworking and glass blowing. The Festival of Learnshops will be held in July 2011 and again in July 2012. Jorsingh-Lawson developed a social media marketing plan with the intent of increasing small business revenues, lowering marketing costs and strengthening customer retention and loyalty prior to the festivals.

The fourth place award was given to the BetaBase Company for a project to help preserve rock climbing areas in Red River Gorge by using 3-D video technology to map climbing routes and evaluate how the activity is impacting rock faces. Tyler Yarbrough, Ben Freeman and Professor Bruce Walcott at the University of Kentucky head the project that will compile the videos into a database posted online and usable through smartphone apps.

About Appalachian IDEAS Network Showcase

Graduate and undergraduate students engaged in the competition gain knowledge, skills and resources to develop entrepreneurial ventures that address challenges within their local communities. Working with community partners and a faculty mentor, students create innovative enterprises that benefits the  community. Students present their venture ideas and innovations before a panel of judges at the annual Showcase where they compete for prizes, receive coaching and feedback and network with other aspiring social entrepreneurs from across the region.

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation sponsored the trophy awards and prize categories with the help of two panels of four “social entrepreneurship angel investors.”

Individuals and teams of two to five students, under the guidance of faculty mentors, partner or consult with local organizations and develop an innovative, feasible social venture or business concept that fits at least one of the following categories:

1. An innovative social entrepreneurial venture designed to fulfill a social need in the Appalachian region.
2. An innovative product or enterprise that utilizes or builds on an Appalachian community’s assets.
3. An innovative Appalachian venture that incorporates triple bottom line principles of sustainability.

The showcase is intended for new, viable student innovations in the early concept state or early development state, created by students at colleges or universities in the Appalachian region. The concept presented must be the original work of the student team. The concept may be based on a novel design, prototype, business (for profit or non-profit), service project, or significant enhancement to an existing program. In addition, the concept must be created with advisement from community partners. The team must demonstrate their contribution and fulfillment of the key characteristics of innovation, feasibility and impact.

Categories: News, People, Programs and Initiatives
Tags: entrepreneurship, EPG, IDEAS showcase

Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The College only admits academically promising students with limited financial resources—primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia—but welcomes students from 41 states and 76 countries. Every Berea student receives a Tuition Promise Scholarship, which means no Berea student pays for tuition. Berea is one of nine federally recognized Work Colleges, so students work 10 hours or more weekly to earn money for books, housing and meals. The College’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” speaks to its inclusive Christian character.