October 18, 2019

Winners of Kish inaugural Innovation Challenge announced

Kishwaukee College, The Rochelle Retail Advisory Board, and The Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Waubonsee Community College sponsored the Innovation Challenge held on October 17 in the Kishwaukee College Conference Center. The “business idea” competition sought innovative ideas for launching a new business or new ideas for an existing business. Ten businesses and entrepreneurs competed for cash prizes.  

Competitors delivered 3-minute pitches to a panel of expert judges. Judges scored each pitch according to innovation and other categories on a mathematical rubric. Competitors included Abu Bakarr Bah with More With Us, Inc; Jacob Becker with Leverage; Gustavo Casa, Adam Coonich and Anguel Tochkov with Your Spot Awaits; Robert Glaser with Virtual Time Capsule; Joseph Kucic with KUCIC MC; Mary Ley with Aireloom Music, INC; Erin Nolan with INKubator Creative Arts Center; David Pack with Box Blox™; Candace Rivera with Hazel’s Café; and David Valdiva with Valdiva’s Custom Iron Works. 

The first place winner, David Pack of Schaumburg, received $1000 for Box Blox™ (of Insightful Solutions Group, LLC). The second place prize of $750 went to NIU students Gustavo Casa, Adam Coonich and Anguel Tochkov for Your Spot Awaits. Third place went to Mary Ley with Aireloom Music, Inc. in Mt. Morris who received $500. All other competitors received $100.

Serving as judges were: Jeff Fiegenschuh, city manager of Rochelle; Derek Hiland, community development director of DeKalb County; Manish Patel, owner of Liquor ‘n’ Wine in Rochelle; and Kate Shaw-Dickey, assistant vice president of human resources at Holcomb Bank.

“Events such as these support the entrepreneurial spirit that fuels so many great innovations and businesses,” comments LaCretia Konan, director of Business & Training Partnerships at Kish. “I would like to thank all the competitors for participating and wish them all the best.”

The sponsors would like to thank Liquor ‘n’ Wine, Greater Rochelle Economic Development Corporation (GREDCO), and the City of Rochelle for contributing the cash prizes; Jock Sommese, advisor for the SBDC, for preparing competitors and tallying scores; Peggy Friday, industrial development manager for the City of Rochelle, for assistance with the Innovation Challenge; and Samantha Burkus, owner of Sunshine Bakery in Rochelle, for providing desserts.

Plans are underway for the 2020 Innovation Challenge.

For more information, contact Kish’s director of Business & Training Partnerships LaCretia Konan at lkonan1@kish.edu or 815-825-9791.


Pictured: Ten area businesses and entrepreneurs pitched innovated business ideas to a panel of expert judges at the inaugural Innovation Challenge hosted at Kishwaukee College on October 17. Photo: The 2019 Innovation Challenge competitors.

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