Kutztown idea wins business challenge

By - Last modified: May 24, 2013 at 11:47 AM

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Contributed photo: Weslie Null of Kutztown University (center), first-place winner of the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry 2013 Business Idea Challenge with Gail A. Landis, Chamber vice president of government & community and Robert D. Harrop, vice president of personnel for East Penn Manufacturing Co. Inc.
Contributed photo: Weslie Null of Kutztown University (center), first-place winner of the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry 2013 Business Idea Challenge with Gail A. Landis, Chamber vice president of government & community and Robert D. Harrop, vice president of personnel for East Penn Manufacturing Co. Inc.

A Kutztown University student's business idea for a mobile taco and burrito stand won first place in a recent challenge across Berks County.

Weslie Null won a $1,500 award for Kollege Town Tacos in the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry 2013 Business Idea Challenge.

"This business idea challenge is one of the initiatives the chamber works on with our local institutions of higher education to provide interface with business professionals to assist the students in understanding what it will take to have their idea become a reality," said Gail A. Landis, chamber vice president.

The second-place award of $1,000 went to Reading Area Community College's Gary Malloy, Courtney Armistead and Lindsey Snyder for their idea of Solar Optimization Inc. to manufacture and install a device to remove snow, dirt and pollen from solar panels.

Alvernia University's Timothy Kershner, Brandon Bateman and Ashley Bakley won $750 for third place with Permanent Erasable Marker with a special solvent eraser on the back.

Kutztown University's Sophia Arroyo, Laura Regalado and Jose Lopez won $500 for fourth place with Electroware by JSL Inc. for applying paper-battery technology to personal applications.

Alvernia University's Mirando Peto and Cody Smith took the $100 fifth-place award for their AskReading smartphone app to report issues to city government.

The competition encourages local college students to consider and pursue entrepreneurial opportunities, particularly in the technology field and is open to students from Albright College, Alvernia University, Kutztown University, Penn State Berks and Reading Area Community College.

Students submitted a PowerPoint presentation and abstract using the Idea Challenge Template provided for their for-profit business ideas.

Nonprofit organizations were not acceptable for the competition.

Eighteen plans were submitted and whittled down to the top five finalists who competed Thursday during a presentation to a panel of judges who ranked them and selected Null as the overall winner.

"As a professor, I am truly grateful to the opportunity that Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the sponsors have provided to our students," said Sue Kong, Assistant Professor - College of Business at Kutztown University. "By participating in this Business Idea Challenge, my students have expanded their entrepreneurial vision and sharpened their presentation skills."

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