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Idaho State University

ISU’s CEED Nurtures Budding Entrepreneurs

ISU’s CEED Nurtures Budding Entrepreneurs

ISU’s CEED Nurtures Budding Entrepreneurs

Ever come up with a product or service you think will sell, but need help getting your idea off the ground?

Thanks to Idaho State University’s College of Business and the Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development or CEED, budding Bengal entrepreneurs are taking steps to realize their dreams of commercial success.

Not only did students compete this year in a statewide competition  called the Idaho Entrepreneur Challenge, they’re creating business plans, refining prototypes and securing patents to bring their products to market.

“I’m grateful for this opportunity though ISU,” said Camie Parsons, whose venture idea placed in the IEC competition March 31 at Boise State University. IEC sponsor Zions Bank awarded Parsons and student collaborator Gabby Kane $6,000.

Other ISU teams taking top honors and prize money, according to results released by IEC organizers, are:

  • 1st Place- $15,000 -Students Colby Borup, Miguel Rangel, EJ Lopez, Morgan Rasmussen and Mike Day for a tool called Wynderhub, which allows ranchers to quickly repair wire fences.
  • Runner up - $6,000-Students Jonny Henderson and Tim Mohlke for Spare Space, a unique storage service for students leaving their belongings at college during summer months.
  • Honorable Mention-Best Marketing Display - $1,250-Students Thomas Brumpton and Jared Cantrell for Turtle Back Technologies, a product designed to help improve the composition of bike tires by using a reinforced fiber layer.

“All of our students have unique and very different concepts and many of them have even progressed passed the idea stage,” said Jeff Street, CEED director.

Parsons, a chemist and former hair stylist, wowed judges with a salon product called iuveni Duality, which allows a stylist to color and perm hair in one application with minimal damage to hair. She has a patent pending on the product and hopes to have iuveni Duality available for use by licensed stylists this spring.

How did CEED help her?

“I knew nothing about business and when I say that, I’m not kidding,” said Parsons, who is perfectly comfortable talking about the science behind her project, but admits she knew little about business until connecting with Street.

“CEED helped me navigate the waters of running a business, (understanding) things like price points and market projections,” she said.

Birth of an idea

Parsons, who grew up in Pocatello, was a single mom, raising four kids on a hair stylist’s salary. She knew she had to find a career that paid more.

So she decided to study chemistry at ISU with the goal of becoming a synthetic chemist—scientists who create new things by altering chemicals and metals that exist in the natural world.

Last year, she had to come up with a final project for her chemistry lab and told her professor about her idea for Duality. As a former stylist, Parsons knew a product that would allow the coloring and perming of hair at the same time would be a winner in any salon—the process typically requires two visits a few weeks apart to minimize hair damage. Parsons professor told her to give it a shot.

Parsons went to work in her lab, developing a chemical process that alters the molecular structure of hair, allowing hair to be permed and colored in one salon visit—with a huge bonus.

 “The process actually repairs the hair damage we have done,” Parsons said.

Control Freak

Ever been bundled up on a ski hill and wanted to change your music or answer your phone without shedding bulky gear?

ISU’s Kirk Lepchenske has been there dozens of times—so many in fact, that he invented the Control Freak, a button-controlled remote that attaches to a sleeve or glove, enabling users to pause, change or adjust music volume without removing gloves, helmets or unzipping pockets to get to the listening device.

“That’s such a pain,” the longtime snow and ski enthusiast said.

Though Lepchenske wasn’t an IEC finalist, he has already secured a patent for his venture idea and is working with the ISU College of Technology on prototypes for the Control Freak.

 “CEED, the College of Business and ISU in general have been absolutely phenomenal. The number one thing I have learned through this whole process is to never be afraid to take the next step. There are always resources out there to help you,” said Lepchenske, who graduated in December with a bachelor’s degree in marketing.

Lepchenske says he knew nothing about electronics when he came up with the idea for Control Freak, but CEED and the College of Business were able to connect him to the technology students who have the knowledge to design the tiny circuit board for the device. He is also grateful to the ISU professor who encouraged him to seek a patent to protect his idea and recommends any new entrepreneur do the same.

Street hopes to include the Idaho Entrepreneurial Challenge in future business management classes. He’s also proposing an interdisciplinary honors seminar to help students—regardless of their major—develop their business ideas.

For more information about CEED, the challenge and next year’s courses contact Street at or call (208) 282-3162.