St. Charles County Takes Top Honor at Lutheran High School Entrepreneur Competition

May 3, 2018 | Posted by Demian Farnworth

Three teams. Three presentations. Three innovative business ideas. That sums up Lutheran Church Extension Fund’s (LCEF) first-ever YES! Challenge, a business competition for St. Louis area Lutheran high schools, held at the LCMS International Center in St. Louis on May 2.

Lutheran High School of St. Charles County was awarded first place.

Senior Luke LeBeau, sole representative for St. Charles County, said the honor “confirms that my idea for a company is something that could actually work.” Owner of a drone videography business, LeBeau intends to pursue launching this business as well.

The unique business ideas

Starting at 9:10 a.m. at the LCMS International Center, Lutheran high schools North, South and St. Charles County were each given 20 minutes to solve this specific challenge:

Your community has minimal employment opportunities for high school students who desire summer jobs. (1) Develop a small business to be managed and employed by students and their peers. (2) Detail at least one way your business will give back to the community.

Lutheran North seniors Cory Keatherly and Jack Krone opened their presentation with a visually appealing logo for their hypothetical company, Fresh Daily. Fresh Daily is a farmers’ market with a spin: this market also travels. On Sundays, the team explained, different versions of their produce market would set up shop in church lots after service ended. Freshman Dominic Cammarata managed the projector.

LeBeau went second. His business idea consisted of a company called Intern-Opp, a service that connects high school and college students with potential intern opportunities. The goal, LeBeau said, is to help students understand what a specific job entails.

Closing out the day of presentations was Lutheran South seniors Kathryn Pena, Claire Renth, Connor Vo and junior Khánh (Leo) Pham. A simple proposition powered their speculative venture: selling companionship. Whole Latte Paws, they proposed, would combine a love for coffee and a love for dogs.

The gift of Lutheran education

While all the students confessed to some level of anxiety, each performed in a professional and polished manner, complete with documents like a SWOT analysis, balance sheets, growth predictions and sustainability projections.

Fifty percent of a school’s score was determined from their presentation. Their business plan book–a document they turned in two weeks prior to competition day–determined the other fifty. A panel of four judges evaluated the presentations and plan books.

Judges included Amanda Middleton, vice president of operations for Lutheran Federal Credit Union; Jim Lohman, associate director of the LCMS Youth Ministry Office; Mary Gendron, LCEF assistant vice president – Loan Resolution; and Robyn Streck, LCEF customer relations director. Lohman said he found the “teams’ interpretations of their business plans interesting” as they came to life on the stage.

In his opening remarks, LCEF President and CEO Rev. Bart Day said “this special contest was an opportunity” to offer something unique to the Lutheran schools in the area, giving back to the “gift of Lutheran education.”

St. Charles County went home with $500 in prize money. North and South received $250 for their participation.

YES! is an acronym for Young Entrepreneurs Sharing.

Pictured above: Luke LeBeau, shown with advisor Amy Klein, after winning LCEF’s YES! Challenge.

Demian Farnworth
Senior Content Writer for the Lutheran Church Extension Fund.