DECATUR – Rachael Coyle wants to produce and market other people's artwork someday.
The entrepreneurship major at Millikin University appears to be on her way, having been part of a three-student team that won the Freshman Business Plan Competition a year ago.
This spring, she went on to attract half of the $3,000 in investment funds during the eighth annual Business Creation Competition involving 16 other students.
The trio who shared the rest of the pie are all seniors who graduated from Millikin Sunday: Anthony Lester of Hillsdale ($900), Matthew Hamrick of Glenarm ($500) and Sasha Roberts of Decatur ($100).
“I'm happy I was able to get my idea across but also a little scared about making a go of it,” Coyle said. “Either way, it should be good experience.”
A native of Amboy, Coyle's idea is to create a math club of about 70 students in grades K-12 who will work on problems in small groups and individually with college-age math tutors. The focus, however, will be on middle and high school students.
“I want to make sure they don't just know how to work out the formulas when they get to college,” Coyle said. “I want them to understand what the formulas mean.”
She called her proposed business Mathletics at first, but changed the name to the symbols for “Pi R squared,” followed by the phrase “Teaching Math Full Circle” after discovering that her original moniker is an online math learning platform.
Susan Kruml, dean of business, said the majority of the business creation contestants were not business students, and this year's contest attracted one of the highest numbers of entries. “They play for real stakes,” she said. “That's what makes it exciting.”
The judges were Prescott Paulin of 300 Below, Ray Fields of Papa Murphy's Pizza, and Bridget Hogan of Samuels, Miller, Schroeder, Jackson & Sly, LLP.
To win the Freshman Business Plan Competition and a scholarship for herself and two other students to take an international business immersion course this past winter break in the Dominican Republic, Coyle helped come up with a concept for an indoor/outdoor gun shooting range.
This year's winners are Kiara Smail of Mount Zion and Katie Massey of Decatur for Ivory Bridal Boutique, a concept for a wedding dress rental business designed to make the search for The Dress easy and affordable.