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Evangel students win $1,000 in Venture Creation Challenge at UMKC

Published on Jun 16, 2015 by Paul K. Logsdon

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Two Evangel University students were awarded $1,000 as semifinalist winners in the annual Venture Creation Challenge at the University of Missouri–Kansas City.

The challenge is a business plan competition in which students from colleges in Missouri and Kansas present new venture concepts to local investors, business leaders and entrepreneurs; it is sponsored by the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at UMKC.

Evangel students Jami McConnell and Ally Walsh are developing a nonprofit organization called RIDE417 that provides free, confidential, non-judgmental rides on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights to Springfield college students who are impaired drivers or in otherwise unsafe situations.

This would be a collaborative effort of the Springfield colleges, businesses and nonprofit community to address the leading cause of death amount college students.

“This was an amazing experience for us,” said McConnell, a senior English Education major with a Leadership minor.

“The competition gave us structure and experiences to enhance something we were already committed to develop,” said Walsh, a senior Biology, Spanish and English triple major.

Both students will graduate next May.

Tom Bloch, former CEO of H&R Block, said, “Being a judge reaffirmed my confidence in the tremendous value of entrepreneurship and innovation education. I was enormously inspired by the students’ creative ideas, plans and business knowledge.”

The Process

Walsh and McConnell brought their business plan to Bernie Dana, chair of Evangel’s Business Department, for advice. Dana encouraged them to enter the Venture Creation Challenge and to visit the 1 Million Cups event in Springfield as part of their preparation.

The students submitted a formal business plan to Venture Creation Challenge and received notice that they were selected to advance as one of the top 50 out of more than 120 applications.

Walsh then traveled to Kansas City to give a two-minute elevator speech and table-top display presentation.

Judges from a variety of businesses selected RIDE417 as one of 16 venture proposals to receive $1,000 and advance to the semifinal and final rounds of competition on May 8.

RIDE417 was the only nonprofit venture to advance to this level.

According to the application, each team was “evaluated based on the value proposition, market feasibility, financial feasibility, ability to execute, launch, and potential impact.”

In the semifinal round, the remaining 16 Venture teams were assigned to 4 rooms, with 4 teams per room, where each team made a 15-minute presentation and had a Q&A session with the judges.

The judges then selected one team from each room to compete in the finalist presentation.

After the finalist round, the teams were ranked No.1 ($15,000 prize), No.2 ($10,000), No.3 ($7,500) and No.4 ($5,000). This year, the Regnier Family Foundations and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation provided $55,000 in total prize money.

Place Yourself Here

For more information on the Evangel University Department of Business, contact Bernie Dana at (417) 865-2811, ext. 8116, or by email at