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Area High Schoolers Present Business Ideas at Competition

Monday, December 10, 2012

December 09, 2012  |  By Kay Nguyen,
The 2012 BIG Idea competition brought in 207 business proposals from 30 schools and the top eight teams came to Aberdeen to vie for cash prizes and college scholarships Thursday. 

Doland High School, which has about 30 students, had two entries make it into the final round of the competition.

Seniors Kaylynn Noethlich and Michaella Stahl are two of six students in Janet Hallberg's personal finance class. They presented their business idea, M&K's Details and Designs, to judges Thursday morning.

"It was nerve-wracking to present an idea that could be a business in the future," Michaella said.

Their proposed business would provide wall decorating services to home and business owners in the Doland area. Kaylynn recently worked with her mother to remodel their home and picked out paint swatches and realized there was a possible market in need of home remodeling services.

The girls worked during their personal finance class and practiced outside of the classroom too. Hallberg, their teacher, encouraged them to enter the competition, Kaylynn said. Despite a brief interuption during their presentation, their business pitch went off without a hitch.

"The presentation went extremely well, and it was good to know all that hard work paid off," Kaylynn said.

The BIG Idea competition — BIG stands for "business is great" — is coordinated by the Small Business Development Center. Cash prizes are provided by Absolutely! Aberdeen.

The McQuillen Creative Group and the Tom and Danielle Aman Foundation provided additional support.

Tyler Hoffman, a senior at Leola High School, tapped into his farming background to come up with his business idea. Hoffman Custom Corn Chopping started as an assignment in Tyler's entrepeneurship class.

"It's just something I thought up while I was on the farm," he said. "It seems like something people needed."

He said he was surprised when he was named a finalist in the competition. He had help preparing for the competition; two students from Leola participated last year.

"I knew what to expect, so I wasn't too nervous," he said.

Prizes for top winners include scholarships to Northern and Presentation College.

During Kaylynn and Michaella's presentation, they outlined their business plans and talked about startup costs involved with their decorating business. They learned that there were many details when it came to planning their business.

The business planning experience was invaluable, Kaylynn said. She said she plans to go to business school.

They had to think about the costs involved with buying supplies to paint walls, stencil designs and install custom wallpaper. One question from a judge about insurance caught the girls by surprise.

"It wasn't something we had thought about," Kaylynn said.

Their fellow Doland classmates, Rachel Lynch and Sabrina Rasmussen, also presented. Kaylynn said she hoped the Doland School brought home a win.

"It was a good opportunity whether we won or not," Michaella said. "We took a lot away from it."

Students from Pierre, Brookings, Sioux Falls and Humboldt were also in Aberdeen Thursday to compete in the statewide competition. Entries came from 30 schools, including some as far away as Michigan and New Jersey.

BIG Idea Competition Results:

First Place — Rachel Schartz, Canning Coaches, West Central High School

Second Place — Austin Lentsch, AJ'S Cakery Bakery, Pierre T.F. Riggs High School

Third Place — Alexander Thomason, Braced With Style, Sioux Falls Washington High School

BIG Idea Marketing Design Award — Samuel Ryckman, Happy Zappy Laser Tag, Ryckman's Homeschool

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