The 28th annual Luther College Entrepreneurial Showcase was held Tuesday, March 19, in Luther College's Peace Dinning Room located in Decorah, Iowa. Since the initial program in 1986, the goal of the Entrepreneurial Showcase has been to serve as an annual forum for students, faculty, alumni and friends of Luther who are interested in and support entrepreneurship.
This year, student entrepreneurs displayed their ventures before the program during the networking session, affording students an opportunity to interact with and receive feedback from fellow students, faculty, alumni and local community members.
Luther alumni, Jay Hansen class of 1987, CEO of Avalanche Technology Cooperative and Scott Lien class of 1987, Partner of Innovations Accelerated, will provide the keynote address, "Think Different and Think Big—Your Innovation could change the world."
During the program, several awards and scholarships were announced including the Accenture Scholarship, the E-Club Leadership Prize and the Erdman Prize for Entrepreneurship.
The $2,000 Accenture Scholarship was awarded to Minh Nguyen, Luther junior. The Accenture Scholarship recognizes a Luther student who has demonstrated academic excellence and leadership while majoring in computer science, management, economics or mathematics.
The Luther College Entrepreneurship Club Leadership Prize was awarded to Luther junior Katie Berner. The E-Club Entrepreneurial Leadership Prize is given to a current E-Club member in recognition of leadership contributions while at Luther and particularly during the past year. Club members nominate and participate in the selection of the winner along with the E-Club faculty advisor.
The Daryl and Audrey Erdman Prizes for Entrepreneurship were awarded to Luther seniors Justin Ratzlaff, Dan Ferneliius and Lindsay Sheridan and as well as Luther junior Chris Norton.
In order to be selected for an Erdman Prize, the Luther students who create, develop and manage a successful entrepreneurial enterprise during their years at Luther must apply and present their venture to a panel of judges. The judging panel is comprised of entrepreneurs in the Decorah community.
Justin Ratzlaff opened his bike and ice cream shop, SPOKES, on July 27, 2012. Ratzlaff started road biking after high school when a former coach lent him a road bike for a team triathlon. After coming to Luther, Ratzlaff became more interested in the culture of cycling after discovering all the bike trails Decorah has to offer. His love of cycling inspired him to open SPOKES. Ratzlaff was one of three finalists for the award and as the grand prize winner received $5,000.
Dan Fernelius and Lindsay Sheridan founded Water Street Music Series in 2012. WSMS is designed to connect the Luther community with local music in Decorah, Iowa through a seven concert music series presented in venues on Water Street. Each performance incorporates elements from both the college and the community. Fernelius and Sheridan received $2,500 from the award and will use it to support their professional development as they travel to Washington D.C. this summer to pursue art internships.
Chris Norton started the SCI CAN Foundation in the fall of 2012. One of the main goals of the foundation is to improve the quality of therapy for individuals with spinal cord injuries and other neuromuscular deficiencies. Norton has held several fundraisers to buy equipment that most local facilities cannot afford. Norton will use the $2,500 scholarship to help pay for school.