August 25, 2011

Prizes awarded to student entrepreneurs

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The inaugural Collegiate CampCEO-Saluki Operation Bootstrap gave a group of student entrepreneurs at Southern Illinois University Carbondale the expertise, and in some cases, even the funding, to help them launch new businesses in the region.

The unique event melded the University’s inaugural student entrepreneurship contest with a new college version of the popular CampCEO and the entrepreneurship experience of Operation Bootstrap.  Essentially, it was an event open to all SIUC students willing to start a business in one of the 16 Delta Region counties of Southern Illinois, giving them the chance to take their ideas and turn them into viable business ventures.  Participants engaged in a weeklong experiential training program led by the professional staff of SIUC’s Entrepreneurship and Business Development Unit.

During the final day of the camp, Aug. 19, camp participants made “pitch” presentations showcasing their business proposals before a panel of entrepreneurs and business experts.  During ceremonies this week, 20 students successfully graduated from the program and 11 of them earned start-up monies for their prospective businesses. 

“This diverse group of talented students has taken an essential first step in embracing the entrepreneurial mind set.  This unique way of approaching both business and life using 8 Life Lessons presented as part of the Kauffman Foundation and the Entrepreneurial Learning Institute’s innovative new curriculum provides them with the foundation on which to build a thriving enterprise in Southern Illinois,” said Emily Carter, director of entrepreneurship and business development at SIUC.

The top prize, a $7,500 cash award to use as seed capital or leverage in securing additional start-up funding, along with $2,500 in books, software and professional counseling services, went to

Bryce Morrison.

Elizabeth Spector claimed the second prize of $5,000 cash and $1,500 in software, books and professional consulting.

Graduates earning $3,000 in start-up funds, listed in order from third through 11th place, included:  Jeffrey Sheppard, Chase Clark, Nathan Colombo, Sarah Robinson, Thomas Heller, Cecil Bailey, Tyler Pilkington, Kara Hunt and David Bridgewater.

The complete list of graduates from Collegiate CampCEO 2011-Saluki Operation Bootstrap, listed alphabetically by last name with their business/concept, year at SIUC and major, includes:

•  Cecil Bailey, pharmaceutical research and development, doctoral student, chemistry

•  Dylan Bettis, artisan café, senior, art and design

•  Christopher Booker, specialty import retail, senior, political science

•  David Bridgewater, arts and crafts school, junior, ceramics

•  Chase Clark, green consulting, master’s student, architecture

•  Cody Collins, retail skate merchandise, junior, computer science

•  Nathan Colombo, green insulation, senior, speech communication

•  Thomas Heller, intelligent traffic lights, senior, mechanical engineering

•  Kara Hunt, unique fashion design, junior, fashion design and merchandising

•  Craig Johnson, tourism, senior, foreign language and international trade

•  Randall McLaughlin, alternative vehicles, senior, technical resource management

•  Bryce Morrison, mobile payment developer, senior, marketing

•  Sean Neil, solar power installation, senior, electronic systems technologies

•  Lee Pilkington, regional lawn service, junior, history

•  Aarika Price, community-based ad services, junior, marketing and management.

•  Jasmine Rice, carpet cleaning, sophomore, political science

•  Sarah Robinson, marketing videography, junior, marketing

•  Jeffrey Sheppard, video production, master’s student, professional media and media management

•  Elizabeth Spector, affordable web development, master’s student, mathematics

•  Colleen Torphy, specialty resale, master’s student, public health

Chancellor Rita Chang was the guest speaker at the awards and graduation ceremonies and program participants came from all over the Delta region.

“This was an incredibly valuable program for our students in terms of the curriculum they experienced, the opportunities to brainstorm and plan, and the networking that is so crucial to professional success,” Cheng said.

Eligible locations for the business start-ups include the Delta Regional Authority counties of Alexander, Pulaski, Massac, Pope, Johnson, Hardin, Union, Jackson, Williamson, Randolph, Perry, Franklin, Hamilton, White, Gallatin and Saline.

Judges for the competition included:  Jeremy Pinkston, marketing director at Black Diamond Harley-Davidson; John Farrell, CEO of Illinois Ventures for Community Action; Valerie Ross, branch manager for the U.S. Small Business Administration; Greg Sprehe, founder and president of Com-Pac International; Kyle Welborn, founder and executive director of FinServe Tech Angels; and Heather Goines, co-owner of Priority Staffing and alumna of the Operation Bootstrap program.   A reception followed the graduation and award presentations.

For more information about this program or the many services the SIUC Entrepreneurship and Business Development Unit offer, call 618/453-3805 or email