Students Take The Leap Into Entrepreneurship

By Linda Vanderwerf
West Central Tribune, Willmar, Minn.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) In the “Kandiyohi Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities” class, students get first hand experience as business owners. The Minnesota students recently had the opportunity to show off their products at an actual trade show. Haley Mottinger, a senior, created a unique way for expectant parents to share word of their baby’s gender with her business “Genderoos”. Couples can purchase a stuffed kangaroo with a joey in the pouch wearing a pink or blue diaper. Cool idea!


Mackenzie Andrews heard parents with children in college complain about the cost of care packages offered by the schools.

She decided she could do it better and faster for half the cost, and Inside of the Box was born. As an extra touch, she adds more junk food than colleges do.

Andrews, ACGC junior in the Kandiyohi Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities class is just starting her college care package business, but she’s had a lot of interest.

She and her classmates were surrounded by interested potential customers last week when the class held its annual trade show at the MinnWest Technology Campus.

Juniors and seniors from Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City, New London-Spicer and Willmar high schools apply for and are chosen for the class, which spends a year learning about business and entrepreneurship. They tour area businesses and have mentors from the business community.

By the end of the year, each student is running his or her own business.

Aside from the business owners being 17 or 18 years old, the trade show looked like most others.

Without fail, each business owner greeted visitors with a handshake and a smile. They handed out business cards, candy and pens. Some had prize drawings.

The products and services offered displayed a variety of ideas.

Haley Mottinger, a senior at Willmar, offers a unique way for expectant parents to share word of their baby’s gender with her business Genderoos. Couples can purchase a stuffed kangaroo with a joey in the pouch wearing a pink or blue diaper.

Bobby Bangasser, a junior at NLS, is starting Fuel Right, a gas delivery service that will deliver fuel to boats docked on Green Lake and even clean the inside of the boat.

With A Novel Approach, Erica Borchert, an ACGC senior, will deliver a monthly novel to subscribers along with a small gift or treat related to the novel’s story.

Bergen Vollan, a Willmar senior, plans to run Bargain Boulevard, reselling merchandise on in health and beauty, grocery and clothing categories.

Other businesses were party planning, children’s birthday party planning, screen printed T-shirts, authentic Mexican clothing, bath bombs, marketing, video production, aerial photography using drones, custom fishing lures, an apartment-finding service, social media management for companies, vintage jewelry trunk shows and repurposed vintage household items.

To a person, the young entrepreneurs said they had appreciated the opportunity they received from the CEO class.

“It’s changed the way I look at how I want to do things after high school,” said Aaron Roeder, a junior from NLS. His business BackWoods Industries does small-order custom screen printing or embroidery on T-shirts and other items.

Emma Asche, a senior from Willmar, said the class presented a unique opportunity for its students, and learning about businesses in the county might help keep more young people in the area.

“A lot of people want to get out,” she said. “It’s not that bad a place to grow up.” Her business, E&E Planning, plans events for nonprofit organizations and has already organized its first event. She wanted her business to be able to do work for a good cause, she said.

Students said they had learned a lot in the class and felt it had helped them mature.

“It’s the most beneficial class I’ve ever taken,” said Erich Feist, a junior at NLS. “It teaches you how to survive in the real world.”

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