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College Students Compete in Northern Kentucky for Start-Up Funds, Bragging Rights

Idea State U, a nationally recognized business plan competition designed to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship on the college level, held a regional competition at Gateway Community & Technical College's Boone County Campus.

The competition has a business plan and a business model category and each of the top four competing groups advance to the state competition. Also, each winner is given a check for their start-up funds: first prize received $1,000, second got $750, third/$500, and fourth/$250. A panel of judges that the groups presented to decided the winners.

The winners for the business plan award was a group from the University of Kentucky called Red Natural, which intends to sell a natural red food coloring to replace a synthetic chemical called Red 40. The product is a red dye that comes from sweet sorghum leaves discovered at UK.

“We're really excited and hopefully we will be bringing this to the market one day and replacing Red 40 because you never know what we're putting into our bodies these days,” said Joanna Forsman.

A group from Northern Kentucky called Change My Tuition finished third in the business plan competition. Change My Tuition is designed to help family members save for college tuition by rounding daily purchases to the nearest dollar and the rounded change gets put into a 529 savings plan.

“Even grandma and grandpa who are on a fixed income can afford to put in two or three dollars a month,” said Kirk Laytart of Change My Tuition. “We're also looking to team up with credit card companies that offer cash back or sky miles that you can just deposit into your kid's 529 savings plan.”

The winners of the business model category was a group from Georgetown College called GridU. Their model is a company that provides educational sports technology through internet and mobile application. It is designed to help athletes who want to take that extra step in improving their game by educating users on personal training, nutrition and safety.

Contestants will receive feedback from the judges to better prepare for the state level competition. The Finals are in Lexington, April 24-25.

Story & photos by Bryan Burke, associate editor

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