Waukon High School student Denzel Decker awarded $500 finalist prize for his Decker Delish business at NIACC Youth Entrepreneurial Academy

Denzel Decker ... Submitted photo.

The North Iowa Area Community College John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (NIACC JPEC) conducted the Youth Entrepreneurial Academy July 9-13 sponsored by the John K. and Luise V. Hanson Foundation. The academy is offered annually and free to all high school students interested in entrepreneurship.

Participants receive a $500 NIACC scholarship sponsored by John Pappajohn. This year’s academy included 13 high school students. The aspiring entrepreneurs completed the academy, which is held as a day camp each day. Students were given the opportunity to stay in NIACC’s student housing, and several students elected to do so. Students not staying in the student housing received gas cards to help cover the week’s travel from their homes to NIACC.

Additionally, five students received a $500 seed money award for the businesses they developed during the week. Among those recipients of the seed money award was Denzel Decker, who will be a sophomore at Waukon High School this fall and is the son of Brad and Becky Decker of Luana.

Decker’s entrepreneurial business, Decker Delish, is a gourmet cupcake business that is described as producing “an aesthetically pleasing and delicious tasting cupcake at an affordable price while making the whole process very convenient. Offering free delivery and customized selections while guaranteeing customer satisfaction is key to the success.”

Throughout the entire week, the young entrepreneurs worked diligently to progress a business model canvas. Students had the opportunity to network with local entrepreneurs, develop leadership skills and gain fundamental skills required when starting a business. Friday, July 13, the final day of the academy, the students pitched their business ideas by submitting an executive summary that included a company description, financial plans and business model key measures including start-up costs and sales projections.

The students presented their businesses to a panel of four judges: Hunter Callanan of North Iowa Corridor, Beth Bilyeu of Forest City Economic Development, Jessica Graham of Sky High Heels and Brook Boehmler of SBDC. The judges then chose five of those businesses to win an additional $500 seed money award, including Decker Delish.

Additional winners of the $500 seed money award included the following:

Ike Branstad of Clear Lake High School and his Bike Right with Ike bike training for younger kids;
Kara Branstad of Clear Lake High School and her Marlie’s Mini Donuts, a healthy, bite-sized, baked alternative to fried donuts;
Kaleb Osier of Charles City High School and his Esox Flies by Osier, a one-man, online shop that produces handmade flies for fly fishing;
and Michael Wallin of Lake Mills High School and his Wallin Genetics to produce quality show pigs at a competitive price.

Additional competitors in the Youth Entrepreneurial Academy included Tony Cadena of Mason City High School, Clara Dow of RRMR School District, Tommy Elias of Muscatine High School, Trace Gau of Lake Mills High School, Brecken Huisman-Buringurd of St. Ansgar High School, Madelyn Kollasch of Mason City Newman Catholic High School, Charles McManemy of North Butler High School and Cydney Shackleton of RRMR School District.

The Academy’s mentors included Jim Elias, Limitless RN Holistic Health and Startup Grind (Muscatine); Holden Nyhus, Scout Pro (Ankeny); Kelley O’Rourke, NIACC Pappajohn Center (Mason City); and Corey Behrens, (YEA Alumni) University of Northern Iowa student and owner of Simplistic Views (Cedar Falls). Guest speakers for the week included Tyler Anderson of Roller City, Tropical Snow, Escape Room (Being an Entrepreneur); Brad Barber of Cabin Coffee Franchise (Customer Service and Branding); Shannon Latham and Latham Hi-Tech Seeds and Enchanted Acres (Social Media Marketing); Spencer Stensrude of Ag Venture Alliance (Investing in Your Business); Jessica Graham of Sky High Heels (Protecting Your Intellectual Property); and Lindsey Falk, owner of L.R. Falk Construction, was the keynote speaker.

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