August 04, 2008

Springfield youth wins CampCEO competition

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- They arrived with ideas and possibilities. At week’s end when the 22 young entrepreneurs left Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s CampCEO, they had the tools to turn those concepts into successful businesses.

Throughout the July camp, the teens participated in a wide variety of hands-on activities and events including team building exercises, a business etiquette dinner, field trips to businesses in the region and discussions with business owners. They learned marketing techniques and created their very own business plans, business cards and marketing plans.

Moreover, they put what they learned into practice in more ways than one. During the “Muffin Madness” entrepreneurship challenge, three teams created their own muffin recipe and marketed it to the community. At Cristaudo’s Bakery and Restaurant one morning, the teams vied to see which could sell the most original muffins. Would it be the apple, caramel, cinnamon and granola concoction known as the “IMuffin”? Or perhaps the ‘Dalmatian’ muffin filled with chocolate and white chocolate chips?

The Saluki Tail Twist muffin, the creation of the Sweet Berries team, outsold all competitors. Tallies showed the Saluki Tail Twist was the top seller, as buyers snapped up 125 muffins made of chocolate and white muffin mix swirled with strawberries. One single order was for three boxes and the total retail value of the winning team’s sales was $249. In all, the three teams sold 272 muffins, amassing total sales of $589.

Lending her expertise to help the up-and-coming entrepreneurs was Sarah Meade, owner of Cristaudo’s and herself a young, local entrepreneur and client of the Illinois Entrepreneurship Network programs.

Presenting their very own individual business plans before an audience of friends and family wrapped up the week for the campers. Dontrell Garrett of Springfield won the business plan competition with his concept for “Regeneration Computer Services,” a company to handle environmentally friendly disposal of old or unusable computer equipment and provide refurbishing services to repair or replace consumer computer systems.

Ryan Wellmaker of Mt. Vernon took second place with “Sealing Solutions.” His concept involves repairing asphalt driveways and parking lots using a coal tar emulsion sealant. Amanda Cohen of Vernon Hills claimed third place with Modern Concepts Consulting, a plan for a consulting firm for small businesses offering assistance with business plans, improving efficiency and boosting business sales and revenues.

The Carbondale and Centralia entrepreneurship centers hosted and managed CampCEO. For more information about the centers and their work, contact the Southern Illinois Entrepreneurship Center at 618/453-3805.