Three Rising Businesses: A Profile of the Grace Business Plan Competition Finalists
Each year, Grace College hosts a business plan competition. Students outline a business, complete with products, growth plans, and cost analysis. In the end, the judges decide who gets funding to launch their business.
Although each idea is unique, they all have one thing in common: They are ways for students to solve problems and impact their communities. To come up with ideas, students draw upon their distinct backgrounds and passions. On November 17, two individuals and one pair presented their ideas in the competition.
Meet the three business finalists from the Grace College business plan competition.
All ABoard Educators
Business Founder: Kiersten Martin
Major: Elementary Education, Master’s in Higher Education
Graduation Year: 2024
Hometown: Plainfield, Indiana
Inspired by her desire to be a kindergarten teacher, Martin wants her business to make it easier and quicker for teachers to craft their bulletin boards. Knowing how long it can take to create a well-planned and organized board, she sought to create a product that would ease this process and give teachers more time with their students and families.
The winner of the $5,000 grand prize, All ABoard Educators will allow teachers to virtually customize their bulletin boards, saving them the time they would normally spend crafting their boards by hand.
“I have thought about this business for a while,” Martin says. “This class gave me the resources, both in mentors and finances, to make this dream of mine a reality.”
Martin worked with mentors to finalize details of her plan and work out any issues. She hopes to launch her business in the next six months to a year. She has big plans to use the $5,000 to build a website, register an LLC, and purchase inventory to launch her instant bulletin board decor business.
“I am so grateful to the Lord,” Martin says. “He has provided blessing after blessing for me throughout this and shown up in ways I could not even imagine. I am still in awe of what He is doing through this idea and business.”
Business Founder: Drew Sigler
Major: Entrepreneurial Management, Master’s in Business Administration
Graduation Year: 2023
Hometown: Columbia City, Indiana
Sigler loves building websites and has always been interested in e-commerce, so over the summer, he decided to combine his two interests by building a software that tracks government trades.
When the government or a politician trades a stock, Sigler’s software sends out text alerts to his clients so that they can invest in the stock before it goes up. With his website up and running, he has already launched his business.
When it came time for the business plan competition, Sigler was confident that his business would have a fair shot in the competition. He sees his idea as innovative because he “created a business that nobody had ever thought of before.”
Looking ahead, Sigler wants to get more funding for his company so he can launch it to a larger audience. He is proud of his business’ success and looks forward to how he can expand it in the future.
For more information, check out the DollarStockClub website.
Hopeful Handler, Dog Training LLC
Business Founders: Anisa Stumbo and Hope Trentadue
Major: Entrepreneurship, Master’s in Nonprofit Management; Communication
Graduation Year: 2024; 2023
Hometown: Denver, Colorado; Indianapolis, Indiana
Stumbo knew from day one of college that she was going to participate in the business competition, but she didn’t have a business plan in mind. As much as she enjoys business planning, she realized she didn’t necessarily want to own one.
Meanwhile, Trentadue had been interested in training dogs for many years. When she was younger, she found a video made by a dog trainer and tried out his techniques on her uncle’s dog. She discovered that she not only liked it, she was also good at it, and it led to a dream of owning a dog training business.
“As I grew older, I noticed that not many people know how to communicate with their dogs,” Trentadue says. “Relationships between animals and people are often tenuous, and that is a problem. So, I decided this business would be important to help people build or enhance their relationships with their dogs.”
When Trentadue told Stumbo about her dream to own a dog training business, Stumbo saw how it gave her the chance to build a business like she had always wanted, and it gave Trentadue a chance to make her dream a reality. While Trentadue came up with ideas, Stumbo was able to answer questions about the business side.
“I had always wanted to start this business, but I never knew where to begin,” Trentadue says. “We were the perfect team.”
The dog training business is about one-on-one training between the dog trainer and the client. Trentadue wants dog owners to be an active participant in the training process. After the competition, Trentadue still hopes to launch her business someday, but she has paused her business plans for now.
“I have a greater understanding of just how much I will have to pour into this business from the start,” Trentadue says. “I’ve learned so much about what it really takes to start a business.”
And looking forward, Stumbo wants to help other people start businesses. She sees herself working with marginalized groups, using businesses as a way to lift people out of poverty.
According to Stumbo, even though they did not win the competition, low start-up costs for Hopeful Handler would make it easy to start up down the road. Whether the business takes off in the next couple of years or further in the future, the plan the pair created for the competition is a solid start for the dog training business.