By Lenore Sobota
The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Ill.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Emma Schoth claimed the top honor at the “Startup Showcase” which is in its eighth year. Thirty-five students initially entered the competition which has evolved from a simple Entrepreneurship Day.
Emma Schoth of Mount Pulaski watched the struggles her sister had finding appropriate toys for her son, Drake, who is on the autism spectrum.
Wanting to help her nephew and other children with special needs, the freshman in psychology at Illinois State University founded Drake’s Toys, a subscription box service in which families get a box of toys tailored to their child’s needs and interests.
Schoth started her business while in high school as part of a Logan County program called Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities. Her idea got a big boost Friday when she won the the ISU Startup Showcase.
She will receive $6,000 in support to help with such things as getting her business incorporated and building her inventory.
The contacts she made with successful entrepreneurs during the event, which included a dinner on Thursday, were also valuable, she said.
“To be around so many successful people in one place is really cool,” said Schoth.
She uses a survey of each family to customize each box with toys that are “age appropriate and also fun.”
Second place, receiving $4,000 in support, was Daniel Kogan of Computer Kid, which provides personalized in-home service repairing or setting up computers and other technology and tutoring on their use.
Kogan is a sophomore in marketing from Glencoe.
Third place went to Abbey Testin of Simply Sugar.
Testin, a sophomore from Downers Grove, has been baking cakes and other things in her parents’ kitchen for about five years and said, “I’m ready to move up.”
Her idea for taking Strictly Sugar to the next level is to have “a tiny house bakery” where the business is on the first floor and living quarters are above. The advantage of the tiny house concept is the ability to move it from place to place — and a shorter “commute,” said Testin, who is majoring in family and consumer science teacher education.