4 Student Entrepreneurs to Look for in Northeast Indiana
What do you think of when you hear, “entrepreneur”? Someone who is full of ideas, wants to make a difference in their community, and is passionate about a certain cause? These attributes might not be true of every entrepreneur, but they are true of four up-and-coming student entrepreneur business owners who are getting their start in Northeast Indiana.
To help their students make their business ideas a reality, Grace College, in Winona Lake, Indiana, holds an annual Business Plan Competition where students can pitch their business ideas to investors for the chance to win money and launch their ideas. This year did not disappoint. Students came prepared with creative business plans involving cupcake baking, hair braiding, treasure hunting, and video gaming.
Keep your eye out for these four budding entrepreneurs.
Graduation Year: 2024
Hometown: Incheon, South Korea
Business Name: CGCON (College Gaming Convention)
Noah Jeong is passionate about the experiences people have at gaming conventions. “Gaming has been a large part of my life, and I want others to experience the joy of gaming,” he says.
This pursuit to “share the joy of gaming” resulted in Jeong’s business concept for College Gaming Convention (CGCON), which focuses on partnering with colleges to improve the gaming convention experience. The goal of CGCON is to open more career paths in the gaming industry and to help competitive players earn recognition through their involvement in tournaments.
“I am looking forward to starting and growing the company,” Jeong says. “Since the collegiate gaming industry is new, there are lots of opportunities for growth and innovation.”
Major: Entrepreneurial Management
Graduation year: Winter 2023
Hometown: St John, Indiana
Business Name: Kaley’s Cupcake Co.
Kaley Dawson loves to bake. She began selling custom cakes, cupcakes, and sugar cookies three years ago after spending a year at culinary school at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, Illinois. “Making custom cakes and cupcakes has been my passion for as long as I can remember,” says Dawson.
Dawson’s goal is to remodel a vintage camper so she can sell baked goods on the go. She plans on starting at events such as weddings and farmers markets. And her dream is not far off. “I’ve just started remodeling the vintage trailer that I have, and I hope to finish it by this summer,” she says.
After receiving $10,000 from the Grace College Business Plan Competition, Dawson has everything she needs to remodel the trailer and purchase equipment necessary to launch the business. Dawson’s long-term goal is to open a storefront for Kaley’s Cupcake Co., but in the meantime, Dawson sees the money that she won in the business plan competition as a “perfect stepping stone” to get there. “I can’t wait to see how Kaley’s Cupcake Co. grows in the future,” Dawson says.
Graduation year: 2022
Hometown: Warsaw, Indiana
Business Name: RelicRaid
In August of 2019, Tommy Meier and his father Rusty set out to build a real-world, high-tech treasure hunt. “The origin of the idea was to have people work together to solve a series of clues that would help aid them in the search for a treasure,” Meier describes. The business stemmed from the thought, “What if there were professional treasure hunters, and what infrastructure would need to be built to see that vision through?’” says Meier.
Thus, RelicRaid was born.
Players can sign up for a public, private, or fundraising raid to win cash prizes. RelicRaid has worked with a wide-range of companies and nonprofit organizations. Most notably, RelicRaid has hosted corporate raids for Lippert Components, a billion-dollar RB company, and Hyper Whistle, the world’s leading brand in outdoor survival whistles. Over the next few years, Meier intends to develop more and more game modes.
“The long-term goal is to have an ever-changing leaderboard on an app to encourage the players’ competitive spirit, build excitement for larger cash prize amounts, and expand the business so that individuals are playing RelicRaid worldwide,” says Meier.
Major: Entrepreneurial Management & Marketing, MBA
Graduation year: 2023
Hometown: Vassar, Michigan
Business Name: Game Face Braids For Athletes
Long-time athlete Mackenzie DeLong knows what it takes for a female athlete to have confidence and focus during a game. After many years of competing in high school and several years as a dual-sport athlete in college, she has a crystal clear vision for her business: “Our goal is to give athletes their Game Face one braid at a time,” she says.
Game Face Braids for Athletes is designed to provide athletes with a hairstyle that will boost their confidence, help them relax, and get their hair out of the way before a game. DeLong is excited to officially open the business and even more, she looks forward to braiding the hair of her very first customer.
“The next step will be to save up for my startup costs,” DeLong says. “Thankfully, the materials don’t cost much. It’s hair ties, hair spray, and combs. But I am eager to start the process of incorporation and gathering contact information for the large sports facilities.”
To follow along with student entrepreneur DeLong’s many business endeavors, check out her instagram page.
Do you have a great idea for a business? Join us at Grace College to be mentored by faculty and have the opportunity to launch your business. Click here to access our Lancer Application.