Madison East student wins first place in Dane County youth business idea contest

July 19, 2010

MADISON – Nelson Auner, who graduated in June from Madison East High School, is the Grand Prize winner in the second Dane County YES! youth business plan contest, producers announced Tuesday.

Auner’s business plan is to launch “Babel Tube,” which would use internet technology to connect native speakers with customers on a daily basis. It would be marketed to young professionals, students and casual language learners. With BabelTube, users can create a profile listing the languages in which they are fluent and which languages they would like to learn. Using a virtual currency called “Babelcash,” users can both “hire” tutors as well as earn Babelcash by teaching others.

Auner’s business plan entry was chosen among four other contest finalist ideas from Sun Prairie and Monona. Auner, who will attend the University of Chicago in the fall, has won $2,000.

The Dane County YES! contest guides students in exploring business creativity though entrepreneurship, while teaching financial literacy and providing opportunities to interact with knowledgeable business professionals. The six-month contest directs students and small teams though the process of turning a bright idea into a business plan in an online contest format.

The six-month contest was open to public, private and home schooled students in middle and high school students in Dane County’s 16 school districts. It is produced by the Wisconsin Technology Council and funded, in part, with a grant from the Madison Community Foundation.

Sponsors of the contest over the past two years were: American TV, Culvers, Optimist Club of Downtown Madison, Irwin and Robert Goodman, Inacom Information Systems, Nicholas and Elaine Mischler, Ultrazone Laser Tag, University Research Park, the Wisconsin Technology Council and the Madison Community Foundation.

In addition to Auner, other 2010 finalists were:

Seth Sullivan, Prairie View Middle School, Sun Prairie: Sullivan will attend Sun PrairieHigh School in the fall. His business plan was “Neighbor Net,” a social networking site for neighborhoods.

Kelsey Carter, Monona Grove High School: Carter will attend Madison College and UW-Madison in the fall. Her business plan was “Make It! Memories,” an interactive art studio.

Maxwell Mulroe, Monona Grove High School:  Mulroe will attend the University ofMinnesota in the fall. His business plan was “Game Galaxy,” a gaming outlet targeting buyers of new and used games as well as gaming tournament players.

Sullivan, Carter and Mulroe each win $1,000.

“We really think all of the finalists and semi-finalists were winners, because they each took the time to build their business plans from simple ideas to potential enterprises,” said Gina Leahy, who managed the project for the Tech Council.

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