Labette County High School senior Lane Manners and junior David Rohling were runners-up in the Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge at Kansas State University’s College of Business on Tuesday.
They are the third team from Labette County to place at the regional/state level in the seven years the program has existed.
More than 55 teams competed for $75,000 in prizes by presenting their business concepts in the challenge categories of agriculture, technology, existing business and open divisions.
“I’m so proud of them,” Wildcat Extension District financial management agent Kylie Ludwig said. “They were well spoken, were able to answer any question the judges asked and conveyed that the business was real, not just a concept. After the competition one judge said they were ready to hire them to assess his fields. They radiated gratitude to me, the judges, sponsors and Dr. Jackson, the director of the business center at KSU. Their parents should be proud of the respectful young men they have raised.”
All teams were awarded $250 just for making it to Tuesday’s final competition. Teams were then awarded more by placing in their respective categories at the state competition.
Manners and Rohling won first place and $1,000 in the 2019 Labette County Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge with their agricultural business concept M&R Technologies, qualifying them for the state competition. Their second place at state nabbed them another $2,500 in winnings.
Their business concept focused on providing farmers with precision ag products.
“Passion drives individuals to work hard and strive to be successful. These young men are learning a lot through this competition,” Ludwig said. “Whether or not they become business owners with this idea isn’t the big picture. The big picture is that they are preparing themselves for business owners if that is the route they choose. If not, they are learning and understanding all the ins and outs of running and owning a business and if they work for someone else, they know how hard that owner worked to make his or her business what it is today. For that, they will be better employees.”
Speaking for the team, Manners said it has been a blessing to compete in the Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge this year and move on to the Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge.
“Getting to meet other businesses from across the state was amazing as well,” Manners said. “David and I are extremely thankful to have made it this far because on the journey here we have learned lots that we will use every day in our future careers. We can’t thank Kylie Ludwig enough for helping us with our business and in every aspect of getting us here as well.”
Funding for the Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge comes from the Kansas Masonic Foundation. The program includes mentoring opportunities with community business leaders.