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May 22, 2008

Media Contact: Hannah Buchanan
Public Affairs Specialist
News and Information
The University of Texas at Tyler

UT Tyler “Big Idea” Challenge Competition Winners Announced

Two University of Texas at Tyler students won the top cash prizes for their creative business ideas at the School of Business Administration’s Big Idea Challenge Competition, Dr. Isaura Flores, professor of management, announced.

Students envisioned an innovative business idea and presented their idea to a panel of judges representing the business community. The event, held May 14, was open to both UT Tyler students and college students in the East Texas area.

Spring 2008 graduate Austin O’Kelly of Whitehouse took the $500 first-place prize for his “College Couch” idea – a light weight, easy-to-assemble piece of furniture tailored for college students.

UT Tyler junior Karl Emery of Tyler received the $300 second-place prize for his “Corn Burger” idea – a “snack on a stick” combining the hamburger and corn dog.

Dr. Barbara Wooldridge, School of Business Administration interim associate dean, served as marketing specialist to each team as they presented their Big Idea business plan.

Dr. Greg Clary, an economist with the Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A&M University System, and Donald Proudfoot, director, Small Business Development Center, Tyler Junior College – RTDC, served as judges for the event.

“Judges were impressed and excited with all the innovative business ideas that were presented by the student teams,” Flores said. “Participants were encouraged by feedback received from the judges and the guest marketing specialist to further build their business plans and team-building skills for future competitions or investor presentations.”


Competition finalists and their ideas were:

  • Earthly natural Resources, by Lucas Pittman     
  • Corn Burger, by Emery
  • CoveredUP, by John Childs and Nichole Chancellor
  • Vinyl Child Lamps, by Sarah Morris
  • Movie Restaurants for East Texas, by Kenza El Amrani
  • College Couch, by O’Kelly
  • Naturally Grown Produce and Grass-Fed Meat, by Cheryl Emery
  • Tredlite Voyager, by Andrew Tyndell, Maggie Zuniga, Christin Williams, Michael Trammell and Diana Velazquez

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