Topeka, Kan. – Promising business ideas are paying off, literally, for entrepreneurs participating in the annual Student Business Accelerator Fund (SBAF) through the Washburn University School of Business. A panel has awarded $36,500 to eight Washburn students and two Washburn alums after reviewing their business proposals.

The SBAF program is designed to create and advance a culture of ideas at Washburn by supporting startup ventures through funding and mentorship. A panel, comprised of local small business owners and Washburn alumni, gives awards in three categories: the Development Award, the Startup Award and the Early Stage Award. Winners typically receive between $2,500 and $10,000 to further their ideas.

Dr. David Sollars, dean of the Washburn School of Business and professor of economics, said, “Students need help to take the next step in developing a business idea. The size of the grant depends on the idea's viability and progress made to date. We are fortunate to have several success stories from the Student Business Accelerator Fund program.”

Stacy Briggs of Independence, Mo., a Washburn student pursuing a Master of Accountancy (MAcc) Degree, is an example of how students can find success with the SBAF program. She earned a Startup Award with the maximum funding for her business venture, The Golden Bubbler, a tap trailer business that serves beverages. Briggs plans to operate The Golden Bubbler in Topeka and collaborate with community partners.

“I will be able to purchase a tap trailer and cover startup costs with this funding. I'm excited to be a part of a variety of events happening in the Topeka community,” said Briggs.

Briggs is a seasoned competitor at the SBAF presentations event. She previously presented three times for her business, two times while pursuing her undergraduate degree in entrepreneurship and accounting at Washburn. Candidates are encouraged to apply for an SBAF award in consecutive years to earn more funding to grow their business. Brigg’s dedication to the SBAF program has helped advance her business to its current stage. This year, Briggs was required to provide an executive summary of her business and a three-year pro forma to qualify for the Startup Award.

Dr. Rick LeJuerrne, Washburn School of Business lecturer and SBAF event director, said, “The Student Business Accelerator Fund is a unique opportunity for our students that is not readily available at other schools. If students want to start a small business, they have the resources to make it happen.”

David Huesers, art major from Topeka, took advantage of the resources the SBAF program offers to lay the groundwork for marketing his business, Skapa Water Bottles. Huesers began creating the product when he noticed a gap in the market for quality insulated water bottles as he began to invest more into his cycling hobby. He earned a Development Award for his presentation.

“At first, I was intimidated because I’m not a business major, but this program made me feel like I’m going in the right direction with my business. The committee was very encouraging, and they were really interested in my presentation,” said Huesers.

Adisyn Stofer of Topeka, a Washburn student in the Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA) program, also received a Development Award for her presentation on her business proposal, Adi's Art Company, which would sell custom heirloom pet portraits created by Stofer.

“Presenting for the Student Business Accelerator Fund was a great experience. I did a lot of research for my business proposal so I would be prepared for my presentation. I have been drawing and selling commissions since 2018, so it will be nice to expand my business with this award,” said Stofer.

The SBAF program provides continued support to recipients as they build their business to ensure they stay on the right track. Each entrepreneur who receives funding for their business can choose to work with a mentor who can advise and aid in the disbursement and management of the funds. Recipients are required to report their progress to the SBAF committee at the end of the first year of operations.

This is the ninth year of the SBAF presentations. The program is supported financially by donations from alumnus Mark Beffort, the Kansas Heritage Foundation and many other Washburn alumni who believe strongly in supporting Washburn students, recent graduates and their entrepreneurial initiatives.

LeJuerrne said, “It is of great benefit to Washburn and Topeka to foster entrepreneurial development. Students who start something small today may just start something big tomorrow.”


Editor’s Note: SBAF Award Recipients:

  • Stacy Briggs, MAcc Degree (Independence, Mo.) / The Golden Bubbler Tap Trailer – Startup Award ($18,200)
  • Chris Paez, Washburn alumni (Paraguay) / Atlantis Fragrances – Startup Award ($9,600)
  • Shanice Hutson, business major (Barbados) / Bless Fitness – Development Award ($1,000)
  • Diana Martinez-Ponce, Washburn alumni (Garden City, Kan.) / Butterfly Effect Marketing – Development Award ($1,200)
  • Sydney Achilles, business major (McPherson, Kan.) / Professional Organizing Service – Development Award ($1,200)
  • David Huesers, art major (Topeka) / Skapa Water Bottles – Development Award ($1,300)
  • Shanise Brooks, MBA (Topeka) / Clean Kicks – Development Award ($1,000)
  • Adisyn Stofer, PTA Program (Topeka) / Adi's Art Company - Development Award ($2,000)
  • Arnav Pokharel, computer science major, and Rajeshwori Malla, computer science and business major (Nepal) / Plexi Network – Development Award ($1,000)


For further information, contact:
Ellie Walker
Public Relations Specialist
Telephone: (785) 670-2154
Cell: (785) 224-7921

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