Entrepreneurship competition offers $75,000

Mark Feurerborn

Connor England, a senior economics and entrepreneurship major, announced his entry on Jan. 22 into the Spring 2017 Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge, which will be on April 17 at Kansas State University.

England, who has won previous competitions, including Washburn School of Business’ Elevator Pitch and Business Plan competitions, has already begun work on his submission for the upcoming challenge.

England said he is thankful for the entrepreneurship program at Washburn, which he believes helped him reach the point of competing statewide. He noted the program places a focus on learning venture creation, and he believes the competitions the School of Business offers help.

“One of the most useful things about the entrepreneurship program here is its wealth of opportunities to do more than just learn,” England said. “You’ve got the chance to practice. Washburn has created and provided us with several different competitive opportunities, in where we can do things such as develop business ideas into fully formed plans for execution. I’ve been fortunate enough to enter in and win every one of Washburn’s business competitions, and I know that the things I’ve learned from the experience will be invaluable in the future.”

England then followed up by discussing the upcoming challenge.

“One of the last competitions that I would like to enter into is the Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge,” England said. “Every major high school and college in the state has the opportunity to compete. In the university division, there’s $75,000 at stake.”

England believes his experience and success in the previous competitions has made him well-prepared for the statewide competition.

“Just with my past on the competitive circuit, I think that I’ve learned enough to really connect with an audience, and to know enough about how to plan and start a business, that I think we’ve really got a shot. We hope to continue our success through those mediums, but having the chance to really try it out is what’s so important.”

Kennedy White, a Washburn School of Business graduate, was England’s business partner in the International Business Plan Competition, and the founder of the business “D18” (now “SmartSave”) which took the team to their championship. White complemented England for his work on their previous entry together.

“Connor helped create a new vision for my business,” White said. “The work he put into the business plan was far beyond the level of effort I would expect from anyone. He brings such a unique perspective to everything he puts his effort into. Connor seems to have a desire to help others reach their dreams.”

While reflecting on his experience in the School of Business, England detailed how his academic career unexpectedly led him to business at Washburn. Connor said that it wasn’t actually his first choice, back when he began classes on campus while a senior in high school.

“I started taking classes in political science as a high school senior, one thing led to another and I split that out to its component parts,” England said. “As a freshman, I was a double-major in economics and communication, the two pieces that I felt most accurately constituted poli-sci. I ended up dropping communication so I could focus more on economics.”

England’s interest in trade and finances through his major led him to sample some business courses.

“I took a BU 101 class with Karl Klein, and a business planning class with Rick LeJuerrne, and the combination of those two helped me understand how using a for-profit business model can make a significant impact,” England said. “You can tactfully solve incredibly big problems and move the world through the structure of business. I very quickly transitioned into the new entrepreneurship major to complement my economics major, and since then the mindsets that I’ve been able to pick up from those have proven to be invaluable in just about everything that I do.”

England gave a message to those who are considering pursuing entrepreneurship.

“For all business students that may want to start their own business at some point, just try it out,” England said. “These competitions are free to enter. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain, and more often than not it could be the start of something incredible.”

The deadline for filing to compete in the Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge is March 1.

Those interested in competing should visit www.ksechallenge.com for more information.