Ridgewater Marketing students take second in state Innovation Summit
October 16, 2020
HUTCHINSON and WILLMAR, MN – Two Ridgewater College Marketing and Sales Management students took their innovative, enhanced pandemic mask idea from brainstorm idea to award-winning business presentation at this year’s virtual competition at the Minnesota Collegiate DECA Innovation Summit.
The annual summit, which went virtual due to the pandemic, was hosted by the Minnesota collegiate DECA leadership organization October 4-9. It brought together 90+ students and advisors from six colleges plus business leaders to develop innovative solutions for current problems. The summit included informational sessions, expert presentations, networking, and roundtable topics, but the interactive highlight was a competitive Innovation Challenge.
The Innovation Challenge charged student teams to consider the current social and economic climate and its global pandemic effects to create a plan for a new or existing product, service or business to pivot its purpose for short-term solvency or long-term success.
Ridgewater’s second-place team of Nathan Johanneck of Glencoe and Alex Probst of Winsted created a business to revolutionize pandemic necessities.
“’Air Is Life’ is a mask company that produces a reusable, fashionable mask, but also has Nano technology incorporated into it that sends updates to your smart phone or watch to tell you oxygen and carbon dioxide levels as well as the current air quality outside,” explained Johanneck. “The mask is going to help people stay healthy and know when there is an area outside that is potentially dangerous,” Probst explained.
Team Johanneck-Probst first created a 3-5-minute video for submission, including everything from an executive summary and fiscal soundness plan to market data. When they became a top five finalist team, they were invited to give a live Zoom presentation to conference judges and attendees.
“When it came down to presenting live on Zoom, I was freaking out on the inside, but when it was our turn, we both nailed it,” Probst explained.
Criteria for judging included realistic need and well-presented video, product mission and description of the business concept, market need, and fiscal soundness.
Other Ridgewater participants making up five other teams included: Kaylee Kleene, Clara City; Alayna Schuler, Granite Falls; Haylee Johnson, Murdock; Morgan Bernstein, Willmar; Kieya Seifert, Hector; Dorcas Sengbey, Cosmos; Jessica Coil, Marshall; Makenna Hillmann, Buffalo Lake; Keria Ross, Granite Falls; and Collin Gassler, Kimball.
“Jenny and I are very proud of these students for pushing themselves beyond the classroom and beyond their comfort levels,” said Derik Schwantz, Ridgewater Marketing and Sales Management instructor, on the behalf of himself and Ridgewater Marketing instructor colleague Jennifer Quale. “Nathan and Alex both work full time in addition to going to school for Marketing and Sales at Ridgewater… What they did well was taking what they’ve learned in the classroom and applying it to a real business situation,” Schwanz added. “The second-place finish, against more than 50 other participants, is proof of the work they have put in.” First place went to a Minnesota State University, Moorhead team, and for second, the Ridgewater duo won $500.
“This was a great experience and we had fun coming up with a new idea that involved concepts for what is going on in the world today,” Johanneck said.
“I learned that when you put two great minds together you can come up with some amazing ideas to help the world,” Probst added.