KBCOB incubator cooks up entrepreneurs
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
The Canyon Challenge is designed to be a starting point for Grand Canyon University’s top entrepreneurs, and this year’s finalists are off and running in various ways.
Katie Leiler, a finalist the last two years, is moving ahead with her 2013 idea, a healthful food alternative now called Discover Foods, and hopes to test-drive it at GCU in the fall.
Leiler’s project is the first Kickstarter campaign directly promoted by the Ken Blanchard College of Business. Tim Kelley, an associate professor in KBCOB and the organizer of the Canyon Challenge, said it is an incubator for the college’s efforts to promote its entrepreneurs.
Kickstarter is a cutting-edge national platform designed to raise money for projects and startup businesses. Leiler has until June 7 to raise $65,000 in pledges to Kickstarter; if she falls short, she gets nothing.
Discover Foods will feature drinks (such as healthful shakes and smoothies), snacks (such as baked sweet potato fries) and fully prepped meals (such as salmon, turkey burgers and protein-packed salads). Leiler has designed a portable kiosk she is having shipped from China.
Rebecca McLarkey, Anna Bright and Tonya Smith, the help-for-nursing-students team that won this year’s competition, have been working to implement the judges’ suggestions and their own ideas into their ever-expanding website, iStudentNurse.com, while preparing for something else that required just a wee bit of time: commencement.
McLarkey said the group took note of what each Canyon Challenge judge said about the website, in particular the recommendation olf GCU President/CEO Brian Mueller to find ways to precisely gauge the impact the site is having on nursing students. McLarkey said the group is working to integrate this principle into the registration process.
But the comments of other judges, who emphasized collaborating, meeting needs, knowing costs and being scalable, had an impact as well. As a result, the group plans to direct more content to male nurses, utilize data to find where improvement is needed, establish clearly defined goals and look for ways to expand in the future.
Lemmy Gitahi, who finished third, was named president of GCU’s IDEA (Innovation, Development and Entrepreneurship Association) for the 2014-15 school year and is moving ahead with his real-estate photography company, Deluxe Sky Productions.
Gitahi, who just completed his junior year, plans to make the 20-hour flight next week to his native Kenya (via Dallas and London) to meet with his father, Joe, in the hopes of arranging funding for his business. After Lemmy returns, he will be manning the new IDEA lab in Room 6-241, the glassed study room on the east side of the College of Arts and Sciences building, overlooking the Quad.
“People can just walk in,” he said. “It will be open to every student at GCU.”
Contact Rick Vacek at 639.8203 or [email protected].