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Local students win entrepreneur awards at state contest

Jul 28, 2017 09:55AM ● Published by City Journals Staff

Kearns High School sophomore Emily Guertler won the $5,000 grand prize at the 2017 Utah High School Entrepreneur Challenge in mid-April for her project, “StraightShot.” (Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute)

In a competition that attracted nearly 150 student business idea submissions from high school students throughout the state, Kearns High School student Emily Guertler came out on top.

The high school sophomore won the $5,000 grand prize at the 2017 Utah High School Entrepreneur Challenge in mid-April for her project, “StraightShot,” a line of adaptive apparel to provide ease in accessing areas to administer medications by injection, port or feeding tubes.

“I was really surprised that my idea was selected as there were so many technical ideas,” Emily said. “I plan to put the money to use to get more supplies for my business.”

Emily said she’s been working on her business after first getting it off the ground with Sandy Area Chamber’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy.

“I got my idea when my family was out shopping at the mall right before Christmas. It was crowded, but my brother has diabetes and we had to wait to use the bathroom to give him his shot in his leg. I got to thinking, why not add a zipper or Velcro or something to his pants to have a spot to give him his injection?” she said.

So, using her sewing skills she learned from her grandmother, Emily went to work and created a pair of pants for her brother. 

“The nurse at school and the diabetes team at the hospital thought it was a great idea,” she said.

Knowing her grandmother and uncle also have diabetes, she realized this idea could become a line of apparel that is much needed for those who need medical assistance during the day.

After placing third at Young Entrepreneurs Academy’s national competition, she turned her attention to the Utah challenge. After learning she was one of 24 finalists, she made more clothing items to present to judges at the April 15 contest.

Then, Emily and others got the chance to pitch their ideas to judges, made up of many influential community leaders. Teams’ ideas and business presentations ranged from a portable solar panel to air scare devices to frighten birds from nesting close to airports.

“I’ve grown to be more social and be able to improve my public speaking. My first public speaking presentation I was shaking so bad. I dropped all my note cards on the floor. Now, I’m able to memorize what I need to say and am organized with my financial presentation,” she said.

The goal of the Utah High School Entrepreneur Challenge is to help high school students explore innovation and early stage business.

“It was an incredible experience to see up-and-coming entrepreneurs showcase their hard work and pitch their idea to the judges,” said Stephanie Gladwin, a University of Utah senior and chair of the High School Utah Entrepreneur Challenge.

In nearby West Jordan, Copper Hills’ Andrew Rich was a $1,000 Lassonde Studio Scholarship winner for his project, The Curb Climber. The project is a base that will be built into the bottom of motorized chairs that will use motors and wheels to lift the chair over the curb and onto the sidewalk. 

The scholarship is earmarked for the recipient to live in the University of Utah’s Lassonde accommodations if they chose to attend the U after high school graduation. The Institute provides students an opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship and innovation.

Another area winner, Herriman High’s Lauren Burlow, was a double winner, having received the Impact Hub In-Kind Award as well as the Lassonde Studio Scholarship. Her project, “My Lunch,” allows parents and students to pre-order lunches from the My Lunch application to select a nutritious meal with fruits and vegetables.

Finalists include a second Kearns High School team, “One Heart, One Home,” who presented to judges and was awarded a $100 finalist award. The project gives the homeless a place to call home, and a community to help maintain. The primary goal is to design and construct tiny homes for those who need housing.

Finalist Riverton High students created “GovGush,” which is a unified technology platform via mobile and web engagement application for the public, political representatives and governments. This team also received a $100 award. 

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