Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

June 4, 2008

Whitworth Students Win Best Idea Prize in University of Washington Business Plan Competition

A team comprising Whitworth and University of Washington students narrowly missed making the final round and was awarded a $5,000 Best Idea Prize in the UW's Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship Business Plan Competition. The team, Krochet Kids International, is a nonprofit organization that provides crochet products made in developing nations to U.S. consumers. The profits accumulated from product sales are put back into the communities from which they came.

The Whitworth Krochet Kids team members are elementary education major Leah Hartanov, '08, and business major Travis Hartanov, '08. Their colleagues are the UW's Kohl Crecelius and Ryan Thomas, and Ryan Motley. The Best Idea prizes reward teams for their exceptional work in several categories. The teams that received these prizes were selected by a special group of judges during the competition's third round, known as the Investment Round. Krochet Kids' prize was in the category of Herbert B. Jones Foundation Best Nonprofit/Socially Responsible Idea.

"The UW business-plan competition was invaluable for our organization," says Leah Hartanov. "We were given helpful feedback and the needed encouragement to continue to pursue our dreams for Krochet Kids International."

Teams taking part in the competition were from Whitworth, the UW, Seattle University, Seattle Pacific University, Gonzaga University, Pacific Lutheran University, Central Washington University, UW Bothell, Washington State University, WSU-Tri-Cities and Western Washington.

At the outset, Krochet Kids was one of 89 teams to submit executive summaries to the business-plan competition. Eighty-four judges screened that group down to 34 teams at the beginning of April. During the Investment Round, in late April, those 34 teams pitched their hearts out to about 150 judges. Sixteen teams, including Krochet Kids, advanced to the Sweet 16 and gave it their all in yet another round of competition. Four teams made it to the Final Round. 

Of the Sweet 16 teams, one team won the grand prize, one received second prize, two received finalist prizes and six teams, including Krochet Kids, received Best Idea prizes. Finalists and winners of the competition were announced May 22. Krochet Kids International was coached by Terry Sanchez, Whitworth business-plan competition advisor and adjunct professor of management, and Doug Laher, assistant professor of Business & Economics.

In addition to its success in the UW competition, Krochet Kids was selected as a finalist in the social-enterprise category of the Hogan Entrepreneurial Leadership Program Business Plan Competition, held in April at Gonzaga University.

"The advice and networking that resulted from our participation in both competitions will be an asset for Krochet Kids International in the future," says Travis Hartanov. "We are so glad that we were able to take part in these unique opportunities."

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,600 students, offers 53 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Julie Riddle, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-3729 or jriddle@whitworth.edu.

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