KEARNEY – High school students from Grand Island, Omaha, Red Cloud and Wayne won the top prizes Wednesday during a statewide business pitch competition organized by the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Rural Development.
Fifty students participated in the Big Idea Nebraska High School Competition, a virtual event that gave ninth through 12th graders an opportunity to win cash prizes while learning more about entrepreneurship and business resources.
Each student submitted a two-minute video of their business or product pitch, and the top 10 finalists presented their ideas Wednesday on Zoom. A panel of expert judges narrowed the final group to five contestants before an online audience vote determined the winners, who received $1,000 for first place, $500 for second, $250 for third and $50 for honorable mention.
The winners are:
First place – Karlee Revers of Concordia High School (Omaha), “EyeWaves,” clear eyeglass frames for girls ages 4-10 that can be filled with colored water, glitter, flowers and sports designs to match any outfit
Second place – Callie Minnick of Red Cloud High School, “Multiuse Tub Lifter,” a device that makes it easier to load, unload and transport protein tubs for livestock
Third place – Sydney Redden of Wayne High School, “Helios Bakery,” a gourmet bakery offering cakes, doughnuts, cookies and specialty breads
Honorable mention – Alexis Osborn and Bailey Brooks of Grand Island Senior High School, “Bijou Artworks,” a website that helps high school and college-age artists promote and sell their work
Honorable mention – Benjamin Morse and Jackson Sikes of Grand Island Senior High School, “Cool Comfort,” a cooling pillow with memory foam and an insertable gel pack
“We are so thrilled with the quality of ideas and interest in the Big Idea Nebraska High School event,” said Aliese Hoffman, assistant director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Rural Development. “This is the first time we have hosted our Big Idea contest statewide, giving all Nebraska high school students a chance to participate. We expect this competition to continue to grow, creating additional learning and teaching opportunities for high school students and instructors.”
The Big Idea Nebraska High School Competition is free to enter. Prizes were sponsored by the Nebraska Entrepreneurship Task Force.
Judges for the final presentations were Megan Goeke, owner of Hello Beautiful Bridal and Formal Wear, The Babe Cave and Beyond Beautiful Officiating in Kearney; Mike Tobias, a producer with NET Television; Juan Sandoval, associate center director for the Nebraska Business Development Center in Norfolk; and Emma Osowski, a UNK senior who won last year’s Big Idea UNK competition with SolHealth, a line of tan-through swimwear.
UNK junior Justin Vrooman hosted Wednesday’s event.