Students honored during Entrepreneurial Showcase

The 32nd annual Luther College Entrepreneurial Showcase was held Tuesday, April 11, in Luther College's Peace Dining 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, the six student entrepreneurs selected as finalists for the program displayed their ventures during the networking session, affording the students an opportunity to interact with and receive feedback from fellow students, faculty, alumni and local community members. These finalists were selected from a pool of 11 applicants to give an oral presentation.

Jessica (Schwab) Balsley, Luther class of 2007, and Derek Balsley, Luther class of 2005, co-founders of the Art of Education, provided the keynote address. While working as an elementary art teacher, professional development coordinator and graduate instructor in art, Jessica Basley noticed a lack of accessible and innovative professional development opportunities for art teachers. The Balsleys then created the Art of Education, an online resource for art educators.

During the program, the Daryl and Audrey Erdman Prizes for Entrepreneurship were awarded to Luther sophomores Austin Lewis and Anna Helt and senior Jackson VanKirk. Finalists included senior Emily Schroeder, junior Belal Krayem and sophomore Kyle Livingood.

The Daryl and Audrey Erdman Prize for Entrepreneurship is endowed by gifts from Daryl A. and Audrey P. Erdman, Luther class of 1961. Through their generosity, the Erdmans provide $10,000 in awards to three student entrepreneurs every year.

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. The Erdman Prize is open to all full-time students from all majors.

Lewis received the grand prize of $5,000 for his company Jim Bob's Painting. He provides interior and exterior painting in the Decorah-Cresco, Waterloo-Cedar Falls and Mason City-Forest City areas.

VanKirk received an award of $2,500 as a runner up for his business Panhandler. Panhandler, LLC is a specialty cast iron frying pan business that sells frying pans with college athletic logos imprinted into them. The business sells 12-inch diameter frying pans that showcase the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and Luther College.

Helt also received $2,500 as a runner up for her business Anna's Knittery. Helt makes handmade knit goods, specializing in hats, blankets, mittens and headbands. She plans to use the award to grow her business through advertising and experimenting with colors and patterns in her products.

Finalist Emily Schroeder was recognized for her business H2Onward, which offers private swim lessons, adaptive aquatics services and stroke technique refinement in the Decorah area. Belal Krayem's business, Kray B Touring Services, was recognized for providing tours in his home country, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Kyle Livingood was recognized for his business Livingood Productions LLC, a video content production company specializing in advertising, marketing and live event videography based out of Minneapolis and also serving northeast Iowa.

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,150, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree in more than 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college's website:

Jackson VanKirk, Austin Lewis, Anna Helt