A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

SQUARE1 recognizes winners in CovCath startup competition, and the winner is ‘Slim Charge’

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A student-designed mobile charger for laptops and other mobile devices took 1st place at Covington Catholic High School’s first-ever startup competition.

Slim Charge, designed by CovCath students Danny Ballow and Michael Kessens, earned 1st place and a $500 prize. The competition was part of the nonprofit SQUARE1 Entrepreneurship Scholars program.

Between this January and March SQUARE1 delivered a crash-course series of entrepreneurship workshops to 150 young men (divided into 50 teams). On March 13th  SQUARE1 hosted the competition among the 50 teams to identify the top 10 ideas.
The teams presented to a panel of judges that include local entrepreneurs, a bank executive, university professors, as well as a startup consultant and a Silicon Valley funded CEO.

Columbia Sussex provided both an intimidating and accommodating space allowing the competition to take place in the top floor board room at their prominent headquarters facility in Crestview Hills overlooking Northern Kentucky.

Other top finishers included:

2nd place, Qardo, created by Noah Feinauer, Stephen Metzger, Joe Niehaus, and Brett Schomaker. Qardo is a business networking mobile phone application.

3rd place, SwingStick, launched by Alex Christman, Kyle Kelley, Jack Pelletier, and Jansen Smith. SwingStick is a baseball swing teaching aid/tool.

Similar to Shark Tank, the students were cast in front of the group of judges presenting their ideas. “We really challenged the students to innovate,” says Bob Lind, CovCath’s IT and STEM Director. “This paid off as not only were the judges impressed, but a few of the teams plan to continue to work with SQUARE1 on their ideas.”

SQUARE1 is able to make this program happen thanks to the generosity of the region’s philanthropic community. Contributors include Louis & Louise Nippert Charitable Foundation; the Jack J. Smith, Jr. Charitable Trust – PNC Bank and Karen Wachs, Co-Trustees; the William P. Anderson Foundation, The Maxwell C. Weaver Foundation; and AT&T Aspire.

“This was a fantastic start to what we hope will be a long-term program for SQUARE1,” explains SQUARE1 President Keith Schneider. “Next year we look to have the CCH winners compete against other regional teams for additional prizes and support.”

SQUARE1’s High School Entrepreneur Scholars program is coming into its third year. The program started at Covington Holmes High School as an after-school program in partnership with NaviGo Prep. The summer program was launched to accommodate hopeful entrepreneurs from the Kenton County Academies that include Dixie, Scott, and Simon Kenton High Schools. For the Kenton County Academies, SQUARE1 also organized a pre-competition and provided business plan and presentation reviews for the 24 teams that participated in the Kentucky Lt. Governor’s Entrepreneurship Challenge.

SQUARE1 looks to expand this program to other Northern Kentucky Schools as well as cross the river to tap the entrepreneurial spirit of Cincinnati’s high school students.

“We could not be more thrilled with the outcome of CovCath’s competition,” adds Dan Groneck, retired Northern Kentucky Market President for US Bank, SQUARE1 board member, and judge for the competition. “The ideas were amazing and these young men presented themselves very well.”

The SQUARE1 Entrepreneur Scholars Program helps high school students develop the key skills of entrepreneurship including opportunity recognition, presentation skills, critical thinking, communication skills, time management, teamwork, and confidence. As with all programs, SQUARE1 focuses on diversity and inclusion by reaching out to a broad population no matter religion, race, income, or otherwise; and hopes to establish entrepreneurship as a tool to help the underprivileged overcome.

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