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Elevating Entrepreneurs boosts business minds

May 18, 2020

Two Heartland Community College students emerged as savvy business minds and scored seed money for their entrepreneurial ambitions.

The Heartland STEM & Business department conducted the Elevating Entrepreneurs competition as the Spring semester came to a close. Originally designed to take place in-person, the contest’s organizers, contestants, and judges interacted in a virtual setting as finalists pitched their business ideas.

After submitting a business plan, feasibility study, financial plan, and video elevator pitch, Heartland students Daniel Gibson, Cameron Hinman, Harlan Kupferschmid, and Kaitlynn Scott were all chosen as finalists to compete and present their businesses to a panel of local entrepreneur judges.

First place went to Gibson for Dan’s Place: a sustainably-minded business centered around clean and renewable energy products. Kupferschmid came in second with his expansive ideas for taking over the family business, Kupferschmid Appliances.

For coming in first and second place, Gibson and Kupferschmid received $2,000 and $1,000, respectively, to put their business plans into action. Awards are funded by the Heartland Community College Foundation.

The panel of judges included Tim Rixstine of Molly Maid, Kelly Mathy of Decorator’s Grocery, Melissa Larson of CPG Printing and Graphics, Donny Bounds of Donny B’s Gourmet Popcorn, and banker/tax strategist Gary Bressner. Many of these local business owners are Heartland alumni.

“This event allowed students to share their ideas and get exposure for their businesses,” said HCC Professor of Accounting Paul Kelson. “Everyone did an outstanding job and we really can’t thank our community judges enough for sharing their expertise with our students creating a true real-world teaching experience for them.”

The final competition was held on the final day of the Spring 2020 semester. The video archive of the competition will be make available at

Written by: Steve Fast