Editor’s Note: In the links below you will find two videos of students who participated in the Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs this summer.
Kennedy Mills from Martin County
Emani Jones from Franklin County
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Aug. 19, 2022) — The Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs (GSE) continues to be a driving force for Kentucky’s entrepreneurial community and has much to celebrate after another successful summer. This summer, GSE gave 144 Kentucky teens a once-in-a-lifetime chance to ignite their entrepreneurial spirits and pitch their business startup ideas at two highly competitive Demo Days on July 2 and July 30.
More than 400 high school students applied to participate in the two residential 2022 GSE sessions that ran from June 12 to July 2 and from July 10 to July 30 at Northern Kentucky University (NKU).
“One of my favorite times of the summer is going to visit students at the Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs because being around these excited young innovators energizes me and gives me hope for the future of our state,” said Gov. Beshear. “Kentucky’s economy is growing at a record pace, so we have to make sure we have the talent and leadership to fill new jobs. I think the best way to do that is by investing in our own youth through education and through programs like GSE.”
Teams of students developed business models, designed prototypes and pitched their startup ideas at NKU to a prestigious panel of entrepreneur judges and an audience of 300 during each of the Demo Day events. Out of 18 innovative startup ideas for a service or product developed during each session, three teams of teen entrepreneurs earned cash prizes to continue their ventures.
2022 Demo Day Finalists
GSE Session 1 (June 12 – July 2)
First Place – Callback Consulting received $1,000 for the development of a unique service that connects talented retirees to businesses, allowing them to share their insights and expertise as needed. Team members were Ellie Roberts, a sophomore at Great Crossing High School in Scott County; Hadley Mellenkamp, a junior at St. Patrick School in Mason County; Greer Glosick, a junior at Greenwood High School in Warren County; and Evan Ferry, a junior at Hancock County High School in Hancock County.
Second Place – Catalytic Conserver, an attachment that goes on catalytic converters that prevents them from being stolen off of vehicles, received $750. Team members were Emi Mizutani, a junior at Bardstown High School in Nelson County; Martha Toney, a junior at North Oldham High School in Oldham County; Ellie Whiteside, a junior at McCracken County High School in McCracken County; and Patrick Davis, a junior at Trinity High School in Jefferson County.
Third Place – Gambit received $500 for the development of an app that allows political candidates to efficiently canvas and reach their constituents in a new, innovative way. Team members were Hayden Watkins, a sophomore at Rowan County Senior High School in Rowan County; Luke Parsley, a junior at Lawrence County High School in Lawrence County; Noah Gibson, a junior at Scott County High School in Scott County; and Cayden Bailey, a sophomore at Greenwood High School in Warren County.
This year, GSE partnered with Render Capital and Access Ventures for a new category at Demo Day: The $500 Reconstruct Challenge Award, given to a team with an idea focused on making the world around them a better place. MapU, an app designed to help high school students get into their dream college, program, or secure prestigious extracurricular opportunities won the award. Team members were Sanya Ajmani, a junior at North Oldham High School in Oldham County; Tate Cox, a junior at Johnson Central High School in Johnson County; Avery Leveritt, a junior at Oldham County High School in Oldham County; and Ali Kashif, a junior at North Oldham High School in Oldham County.
Demo Day Session 1 judges included Dale Morgan, CEO and president of Foundation47; Ashley Barrow, CEO of A Statue of Excellence; Abby Ober, program manager at Main Street Ventures; and Myron Rivers, CEO of Lerch. Nate Morris, founder of Lexington-based Morris Industries and its signature asset Rubicon, was the keynote speaker.
Session 1 participant Jackson McClean, a junior at Marshall County High School, said, “My time at GSE has been a once in a lifetime opportunity that has changed my trajectory in life. Not only have I been exposed to amazing and successful entrepreneurs, invaluable hands-on experience in the entrepreneurship field, and useful knowledge on what it takes to run a business, but I have also made everlasting friendships with the brightest teens across Kentucky and will never forget the shared experiences. Truly, GSE has taught me so much and introduced me to even more and has set me on the path to owning my own business.”
GSE Session 2 (July 10 – 30)
First Place – Pivot Parking received $1,000 for the development of a parking service solution using radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips to notify users which parking spots are free and which are not in a garage or large lot. Team members were Zahrah Al Garawi, a junior at Fairdale High School in Jefferson County; Katherine Vonder Haar, a sophomore at Kentucky Country Day School in Jefferson County; Taylor Smith, a junior at Breckinridge County High School in Breckinridge County; and Kevin Le, a junior at Henry Clay High School in Fayette County.
Second Place – TestPeak received $750 for the creation of a centralized, personalized and affordable platform to help reduce test anxiety and improve test scores. Team members were Lydia Charles, a junior at Frederick Douglass High School in Fayette County; Alice Hagan, a sophomore at Seton Home Study School in Woodford County; Jackson Wilson, a sophomore at Highlands High School in Campbell County; Aleia Kate Harper, a junior at Barren County High School in Barren County.
Third Place – PreCovery received $500 for the development of an app focused on preventing and managing athletic overtraining, specifically in runners. Team members were Daniel Khi, a sophomore at Trinity Christian Academy in Fayette County; Lilly Hartman, a junior at Henry Clay High School in Fayette County; Clay Pippen, a junior at Glasgow High School in Barren County; and LeAnn Campbell, a freshman at Jackson City School in Jackson County.
The $500 Reconstruct Challenge Award was awarded to Stay Rooted in Session 2. Stay Rooted is a resource-based event service focused on the mental health of farmers. Team members were Riley Ellison, a sophomore at Great Crossing High School in Scott County; Elaine Chan, a junior at the Ignite Institute in Boone County; Layne Pry, a sophomore at the J. Graham Brown School in Jefferson County; and Ella Gough, a sophomore at Union County High School in Union County.
Judges for Demo Day Session 2 included Misty Edwards, executive director of the Kentucky Commission on Proprietary Education; Dave Knox, executive director of Blue North Kentucky; Abbi Rettig, founder and owner of Tickety-Boo Treats; and Chris Redd, investor and founder of Network n Chill. Nate Morris, founder of Lexington-based Morris Industries and its signature asset Rubicon, was the keynote speaker.
Session 2 participant Eva Ramsey, a junior at Elizabethtown High School in Hardin County said, “GSE has not only shown me what true entrepreneurship is, but it has also given me countless opportunities. Not only did GSE allow me to learn leadership and problem-solving skills, but it allowed me to make friends I hope to keep for a lifetime. GSE has changed my life in so many positive ways and I am proud to soon be an alum.”
While building a working team, teens in each session networked with over 30 seasoned entrepreneurs, attended a local pitch competition and spent over 200 hours developing their business models. Businesses from across the commonwealth including AppHarvest, Cork Leadership, Wicked Sheets, Oriental Wok, Brown-Forman, Awesome Inc, Kentucky Farm Bureau, Harlan Beer Company, Melanated Healthcare, Symba, Cintrifuse, Turnquist House, Clayton & Crume welcomed the young entrepreneurs, sharing the challenges and successes of their businesses while allowing unparalleled access to the inner workings of day-to-day business.
“The 2022 GSE experience has been a huge success,” said Erica Rust Pennington, GSE’s program director. “We served a record 144 students, representing the future of business and entrepreneurship in the commonwealth. With our most geographically diverse class to date, GSE is serving Kentucky teens from all corners of our beautiful state. GSE is proud to be the catalyst that is nurturing, inspiring and enabling our youth to unleash their entrepreneurial spirits for the economic betterment of their communities across Kentucky and beyond.”
Because of strong partnerships with entities such as the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, the Cabinet for Economic Development, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK), Duke Energy, Brown-Forman, Kentucky Farm Bureau, Main Street Ventures, PNC, Access Ventures, and numerous public and private supporters like the Marksbury Family Foundation and Nate Morris of Rubicon Global, GSE is free for selected entrepreneurs. Alumni of GSE gain access to more than $5 million in scholarship funding opportunities to attend colleges and universities in Kentucky, high school class credit and a statewide network of entrepreneurial support.
GSE is a relative newcomer on the list of Kentucky’s Governor’s Schools, having opened to its first group of students in 2013. Since 2013, more than 700 student entrepreneurs have gained vital entrepreneurial skills through the program to use as they enter the workplace or continue into higher education.
GSE alumni have launched more than 30 new businesses, filed multiple patents and developed new ideas and relationships that sow the seeds for more business formation. Dozens of alumni have chosen to enroll in entrepreneurial programs at Kentucky universities and attribute this decision to the inspiration they received by attending GSE in high school. GSE fosters and empowers the commonwealth’s future business owners and community leaders, giving these teens the support they need to go from high school students to business owners.
Applications for the 2023 Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs will open in November. Parents, educators, entrepreneurs and teens who believe grit, a growth mindset and creativity in problem solving tell as much about a young person as good grades and test scores, can learn more about the GSE at www.KentuckyGSE.com.