Luther students honored during Entrepreneurial Showcase

The 30th annual Luther College Entrepreneurial Showcase was held Tuesday, April 14, in Luther College's Peace Dinning Room.  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.

Jody Pettit founder of Portland Landport provided the keynote address. Pettit grew up in Decorah, Iowa, and holds bachelor's and master's degrees in fitness and wellness administration from the University of Iowa. She also holds a Doctor of Medicine degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and practiced as an Internal Medicine physician for 20 years. Portland Landport makes the Landport, a delivery lockbox for residential and business use. She collaborated with designers, engineers, metal fabricators, and seasoned marketing and technology consultants to develop her four-year entrepreneurial dream.

During the program, the Daryl and Audrey Erdman Prizes for Entrepreneurship were awarded to Luther senior Evan Sowder, junior Eric Tiller as well as Luther sophomores Patrick Larson, Gus Nelson and Lars Sorenson.

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.

Evan Sowder was the grand prize winner of $5,000 with his company of Evan Sowder Photography. Sowder photographs everything from large groups to individual head shots to weddings and more. He started out taking macro photos of insects in his freshman year, which he continues to do for a Luther biology professor. He participated in two internships with photographers, one in New York and one with a Luther alumna in Wisconsin. Sowder said he is extremely grateful to the Erdmans and everyone in the Luther community and beyond who has supported him and his photography.

Patrick Larson, Gus Nelson and Lars Sorenson founded The Blue Alps. The Blue Alps is a tailored classified ads website that is used to exchange and share goods among Luther students, while promoting sustainability. Sorenson credits part of The Blue Alps' success to Luther allowing students to innovate and excel in whatever areas their passions lie. Larson, Nelson and Sorenson received $2,500 from the award and will use it to support and further The Blue Alps site.

Eric Tiller is the creator of CollegeWorks Painting, a quality exterior painting business that emphasizes affordable costs and customer service. Tiller said that Luther has helped him through a variety of resources, from experienced advisors to student body networking, and this achievement shows that adversity is just a stage in the development of a business. Tiller received $2,500 from the award and plans to use it to promote the growth of his business.

Luther is a selective four-year college located in northeast Iowa. The college has an enrollment of 2,400 students and offers a liberal arts education leading to the bachelor of arts degree in 60 majors and pre-professional programs.