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Young Entrepreneurs Win Business Plan Competition

Ten Iowa and Illinois high school students earned seed capital grants of $200 to $500 after winning a business plan competition sponsored by the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC) at the University of Iowa.

The students earned the grants after attending the 2003 Young Iowa Entrepreneurs Summer Camp from June 24-27 at the UI. During that week, the students developed a business plan from start to finish. In writing their plans, the students learned how to identify and evaluate entrepreneurial opportunities, do market research, and find financing for new ventures. Some participants developed a business idea into a plan, while others expanded their plan from an existing enterprise.

The camp culminated with a business plan competition in which the 29 participants competed for seed money for starting their businesses or for college tuition.

First place winners of $500 seed capital grants were:

IOWA CITY: Michael Ahrens, for Wonder Dogg, a hot dog kiosk in downtown Iowa City.

URBANDALE: Brad Cowger, for Center Stage Shirts, which produces custom, printed shirts.

CEDAR RAPIDS: Chris Gensicke, for Pixel Productions, a graphic design company.

CRESTON: Brad Fogle, for, an online community for players of multiple gaming systems. Fogle won the Entrepreneurial Spirit Award, a newly created award given by John Buchanan, founder of RBP, a Marsh and McLennan Company.

Second place winners of $350 seed capital grants were:

CARROLL: Irene Nissen, for Acuto Productions, a digital video production company.

ELY: Kris Day, for Hello Shadow Media, a recording studio and music production company.

BOONE: Amberly Hagen, who runs Farmer's Daughter Catering. Among her products are cookies that are frosted with the image of a business card.

Third place winners of $200 seed capital grants were:

FORT MADISON: Luke McAlister, for Southern Iowa Herps, which sells reptiles and other exotic small animals.

NAPERVILLE, ILL.: Sid Salvi, for MedTech, a technology company that assures accuracy of doctors' prescriptions.

MARION: Jeremy Tipton, for Lawn Display, a custom novelty lawn display provider for birthdays, anniversaries and other events.

At the camp, students attended classes and worked on their business plans in the John Pappajohn Business Building. In addition, they heard from successful entrepreneurs and business owners. In the evenings, they enjoyed an ice cream social, a magic show and played games in the recreation room. The campers stayed at the Currier Residence Hall on the UI campus.

"The camp was a chance for business-oriented students from across the state to meet and share ideas about entrepreneurship. In the daily sessions, they learn from seasoned entrepreneurs and business faculty what it takes to start a successful business," said Dawn Bowlus, JPEC outreach coordinator.

The John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center and the University of Iowa co-sponsored the Young Iowa Entrepreneurs Summer Camp program. There was no fee for the camp, which is made possible through a grant from The William Zimmerman Foundation of Fairfield, Iowa. In their application, students submitted an essay about what kind of business they wanted to start, why they wanted to attend the camp and included other business experience and academic background.

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