WINONA LAKE – Grace College business student Jessica VandenBoom was awarded $11,000 to kickstart her business dreams at the Eighth-Annual Grace College Business Plan Competition which took place virtually April 21. VandenBoom, a senior blended degree student from Markle, Indiana, will earn a bachelor’s degree in business and an MBA this May.
Her winning product – Color by Maze – is a computer-designed maze that is numbered and then colored with markers. The kid’s activity product will be sold in gift shops, schools, and airports for travelers.
VandenBoom describes Color by Maze as a combination of a maze and paint by number. “You start with a blank maze, and once completed, you have a color picture. I hope to publish a book of these mazes as well as offer custom maze creation based on images sent in by customers,” she said.
“It has been a joy to see the vision and dedication that Jess has shown in conceptualizing this exciting product,” said Dr. Alan Grossnickle, associate professor of business and director of the William P. Gordon Institute for Enterprise Development at Grace College.
VandenBoom was inspired by a friend and former coworker, Jace Middleton, who draws mazes as a hobby. “When he showed me this gift of his, the gears started turning and I couldn’t help but think of the potential it had to be a business concept. The competition was just the next logical step,” said VandenBoom.
As VandenBoom prepared for the competition and developed her product, she was supported by the local SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) Team. “We are very appreciative of the assistance given by the local SCORE Team, led by Tim Meyer, which has worked with all of our business idea teams since last October and has provided invaluable time and consultation,” said Grossnickle.
VandenBoom plans to use her $11,000 for computer program development and intellectual property protection which is already in progress.
“I am thankful and humbled by this experience,” said VandenBoom. “I can’t help but think back to when I began my time at Grace. Oh my, have I grown and learned so much! I am blessed to have had such amazing professors who poured into me professionally and personally,” she said.