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K-State to host the Next Big Thing competition

By Bryan Richardson

Twelve projects, divided into three categories, will compete in the finals of Kansas State’s entrepreneurship competition, The Next Big Thing, from 2:30-5 p.m. Thursday in the K-State Student Union. The presentations are open to the public.

The Next Big Thing is an idea competition open to all K-State students. Student entrepreneurs submit feasibility plans for a business and compete for the chance to win in their category. The categories are undergraduate and graduate divisions, as well as a social entrepreneurship division.

This year, 271 registrations were received and 72 feasibility plans submitted, which are up from 251 and 51 respectively last year.

Students from all colleges across campus submitted plans this year, with majors ranging from engineering and physiology to entrepreneurship, and projects that included a bakery, a mobile oil change service, websites and new machinery.

This is the fourth year for the competition, which is organized by the Center for the Advancement of Entrepreneurship in the College of Business Administration.

“The Next Big Thing gives students the opportunity to apply the skills they learn in the classroom to their own new venture idea,” said Chad Jackson, associate director of the center and an instructor of management. “Through this competition we are working to give them the tools they need to launch new companies and provide economic development for our community.”

Judges for the finals are local entrepreneurs and business people, including Jeff Glasco, director of The Archer Foundation; T.J. Vilkanskas, financial adviser at Keating and Associates; and Lyle Butler, president and CEO of the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce.

All four of the finalists in each division will receive prize money: $3,000 for first place, $2,000 for second, $1,000 for third and $500 for fourth.

Ideas are judged on their originality and feasibility. Business pitches are also considered, with the best one in each category receiving a $500 prize.

“The competition is becoming tougher as our student entrepreneurs are submitting better plans each year,” Jackson said. “All of the ideas in the finals could become successful businesses.”

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