FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 24, 2012) –
Three student teams from Northern Kentucky University (NKU) have won awards and prizes in the fifth annual statewide
contest for entrepreneurs. The competition, called “Idea State U,” is designed to help identify and support the next
generation of Kentucky innovators and entrepreneurs.
“I congratulate the winners and applaud the efforts of all who participated in the Idea State U competition,” said Gov.
Steve Beshear. “This type of innovative and entrepreneurial spirit will play a key role in future economic development.
We wish these students the best as they pursue their dreams of putting these promising business plans into action.”
In the graduate division, the team of Aaron Perkins and Deanna Barker received $24,711 for their entry in the competition’s
business plan category. The proposed venture, Social Circles.com, is a venture to develop a calendar-based social
networking platform that provides recommendations for social activities based on personal interests, local events and
In the undergraduate division, the team of Tamara Dickerson and Stephanie Ward received $11,533 for an entry in the business
plan category. Their proposed venture, Inxpression, uses a patent pending in-store machine that lets customers design
their own t-shirts with customized text and graphics in a matter of minutes.
Inxpression also received the Governor’s Innovation Award. The team’s idea was judged to best demonstrate innovative
thinking and possess a “wow” factor.
In the undergraduate division, Jason Hulett and Mari Bower received $1,588 for their entry in the business concept category.
The proposed venture, Line Scout, uses a cloud-based software application to assist management efforts in the restaurant
Other NKU students, Nathan Noel and Sarah Mullins, also participated in the two-day event. Their business concept outlined a
venture named Course Confidence, an interactive online peer-to-peer tutoring tool and supplemental course material service.
The NKU students, with the help of advisors Rodney D’Souza and Jeff Varrone, spent months developing their business concepts.
The Northern Kentucky students were among more than 70 participants in the competition. In all, “Idea State U” featured 10
teams of graduate students and 14 teams of undergraduates from seven of Kentucky’s universities. In addition to NKU,
students participated from Kentucky State University, Morehead State University, Murray State, University of Louisville,
University of Kentucky, and Western Kentucky University.
Approximately $100,000 in prizes was awarded to student teams who conceived or developed plans for new Kentucky companies.
Cash prizes were weighted to provide larger awards to those teams whose entries are more fully developed and therefore more likely
to succeed in the real world. This emphasis on readiness to compete in the marketplace offers the greatest opportunity to earn a return
on the state's investment by creating real companies that provide real jobs for Kentuckians.
In response to this annual competition, several schools have enhanced their existing programs or established new entrepreneurship
courses to develop business plans that will compete at future “Idea State U” events.
The Cabinet hosts the “Idea State U” competition to encourage a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship that will help sustain
Kentucky’s future economy in the global marketplace. The $100,000 in cash awards makes Kentucky’s “Idea State U” one of the nation’s
top state-sponsored business plan competitions.
The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development is the primary state agency in Kentucky responsible for
creating new jobs and new investment in the state. New business investment in Kentucky in 2010 totaled
more than $2 billion with the creation of nearly 11,900 new jobs. Information on available development
sites, workforce training,incentive programs, community profiles, small business development and other
resources is available at www.ThinkKentucky.com.