Each year, Grace College hosts a business plan competition,
where students present ideas that solve problems and impact their communities. 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. To come up with ideas, students draw upon their distinct backgrounds and passions.
Students prepare to pitch their business plan for a chance to win $5,000.
All Grace students with an entrepreneurship major or minor are required to participate in the competition, but any student is welcome to participate. Dr. Alan Grossnickle started the competition in 2013 as a way to better train students for entrepreneurship. Several local companies fund the competition, including Wildman Business Group, Beers/Mallers - Attorneys at Law, Horizon Bank, RSM, and Hall & Marose/Silveus Insurance.
Kierstin Martin presenting her business, All ABoard Educators.
On November 17, two individuals and one pair presented their ideas for a chance to win $5,000.
Meet the three finalists from the Grace College business plan competition.
All ABoard Educators, 1st place
Business Founder: Kierstin 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 business plans 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.
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 plans to use the $5,000 to build a website, register an LLC, and purchase inventory to launch her instant bulletin board decor business.
Kierstin Martin won first place and a $5,000 prize.
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 says 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
Drew Sigler presents his business, DollarStockClub.
Hopeful Handler, Dog Training LLC
Business Co Founders: Anisa Stumbo and Hope Trentadue
Major: Entrepreneurship, Master’s in Nonprofit Management; Communication
Graduation Year: 2024; 2023
Hometown: Denver, Colorado; Indianapolis, Indiana
Anisa 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, Hope 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.
Anisa Stumbo and Hope Trentadue present their dog training business, Hopeful Handler, Dog Training LLC.
To see past winners of the business plan competition, visit the Grace College website