Initial Pratt Student Entrepreneurial Award Recipients Selected
By Bill Wax, Director of Communications
Three Bellevue University students are building their dream businesses with help from an innovative new program funded by Tom and Anne “Annie” Pratt of Omaha.
Supporting startup enterprises comes naturally for the Pratts, who are longtime entrepreneurs and supporters of the University. Annie’s father, the late Clifton Batchelder, a successful entrepreneur in the printing business, was an early supporter of then Bellevue College and a longtime member of the College’s Board of Directors. Annie served several years on the Bellevue University Foundation Board.
The Pratts created the Tom and Annie Pratt Student Entrepreneurial Award to help student-entrepreneurs turn great product and service ideas into viable businesses. The three Award recipients will receive seed-money grants sponsored by the Pratts, longtime owner-operators of a successful travel business, who wanted to help budding entrepreneurs take the next step toward the dream.
Award funds of up to $5,000 per year may be applied to a variety of expenses to advance a product or service to the marketplace, including (but not limited to) patent application costs, building a prototype, and market or product research.
Two of the three initial Award recipients, Lori Beck and Stacy Maddux, both of Omaha, met and thanked the Pratts during an informal luncheon on the University campus October 3. The third recipient is Ben Kirkland, also of Omaha.
A panel of University faculty members and college deans selected the three recipients through a two-stage process. Award panelists included Prof. Linda Fettig, adjunct instructor, Master of Fine Arts in Creativity program; Dr. Lucy Franks, Professor, College of Business (COB); and Dr. John Kyndt, Assistant Professor, College of Science and Technology (CST); and Dr. Pamela Imperato, Dean, COB; Dr. Clif Mason, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences; and Mary Dobransky, Dean, CST;
In all, 24 Pratt Award applications were received this spring, including three proposals seeking funds to develop non-profit service organizations. Seven MBA students applied, along with four B.S. in Business majors, two Supply Chain Management, and majors in Management, Health Service, Human Resources, Computer Information Systems, Project Management, Human and Social Services Administration, and Clinical Counseling.
The Winning Business Proposals:
E3 Tours – Lori Beck, a wife and mother of two, envisioned a travel agency catering to busy single parents and others who are seeking economical, educational, and entertaining family oriented vacation opportunities ranging from day trips to extended-stay venues. Lori has extensive contacts in the non-profit world and travel business, including seven years working for Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo. She has B.S. in Management, and Master of Arts in Leadership degrees from Bellevue University and was completing the M.S. in Clinical Counseling program at the time she applied. She enrolled in Graphic Design classes this fall. She will use her Pratt Award Funds to develop marketing materials.
Fix That – Ben Kirkland’s business concept is a smart phone application for tagging, viewing, and reporting pot holes, traffic hazards and other fixable issues to state or municipal street and road maintenance departments as well as other motorists using the Fix That app. Pratt Award funding will help with design and development costs to provide the app across multiple platforms.
The Bereavement Team – When Stacy Maddux’s elderly mother died in Palm Springs, California, Stacy saw the need for a variety of concierge services ranging from preparing her mother’s house for sale, to legal details, accounting issues, and dividing up cherished family belongings, all while grieving for a lost loved one. She has assembled contacts in a wide range of related fields, including potential future funding sources to grow her business. Maddux envisions developing a franchise business model focused initially on providing concierge services in upscale retirement markets such as Palm Springs, which are popular with retirees. Her Pratt Award funding will help pay for website development and printed marketing materials.
A second round of applications is planned later this fall, with winners to be selected early in 2015. Previous Award applicants and winners can reapply for funding, as long as they are enrolled in the University.