Center for the Advancement of Entrepreneurship

The Center for the Advancement of Entrepreneurship was founded in 2008 with the mission of promoting entrepreneurship among all academic disciplines at Kansas State University. Our award-winning entrepreneurship center offers academic and non-academic experiences to Kansas State students in all majors and years. Willie Entrepreneur


Start-up Cats

K-State Launch: is your Idea The NEXT Big Thing? 

Started in 2010 The NEXT Big Thing, now K-State Launch, is an annual entrepreneurship idea competition that awards more than $20,000 in prize money. The competition is open to undergraduate and graduate students in the K-State Manhattan campus. 

Venture Accelerator

The Venture Accelerator is located at 914 and 918 N. Manhattan Avenue directly across from the K-State campus.

Venture Incubator

Provides business services and space to promising student ventures in the early development stages. The Incubator is designed to take learning beyond the walls of the classroom and allows students to combine their knowledge and passion to create businesses. It supports traditional, social, and corporate entrepreneurial ventures, and it is open to students from all majors, and focuses on closing the gap between writing business plans and venture launch. 

Wildcat Venture Fund

All K-State students have the opportunity to start their new venture in the Venture Accelerator with funding from the Wildcat Venture Fund, which is fully managed by investment management students.

Investment management students conduct due diligence, analysis, and make investment recommendations on student businesses applying for funding and space in the Venture Accelerator. These students will also be responsible for helping student entrepreneurs create the financial portion of their business plans, work with entrepreneurs to help grow their businesses, and provide other venture capital related functions such as bringing in accounting, marketing, and management expertise (other students) as necessary. A board of K-State linked venture capitalists provide oversight.

Entrepreneurship Mentoring

Connecting entrepreneurship students with alumni who provide student-specific guidance in their individual area of entrepreneurship interest. This experience further enhances the student's entrepreneurship knowledge and potential for business success.

K-State Made

K-State Made is a program for university students, faculty and staff to sell products on consignment through our retail partner, Varney's. Visit to see the latest products.

Faculty and Staff

Chad Jackson: Interim director, instructor

External Activities

Advisory Board

  • Lee Borck, Innovative Livestock Services, Inc.
  • Lyle Butler, Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Bob Debruyn, Master Teacher
  • Dave Dreiling, GTM Sportswear
  • Chris Fox, Fox Home Innovations
  • Kent Glasscock, Kansas State University - IC
  • John Graham, Kansas State University
  • Eric Higgins, Kansas State University
  • Phil Howe, Kansas State Bank
  • Walt Lane, Netstandard
  • Kevin Lockett, UEP
  • Janice Marks, Varney and Associates
  • Earl McVicker, Central Bank and Trust Co.
  • Christopher Miller, Gammon Miller LLC
  • Amy Renz, Kansas State Alumni Association
  • Toby Rush, EyeVerify
  • Bill Sanford, Symark, LLC
  • Kylie Stupka, Youth Entrepreneurs
  • Bill Trenkle, Foulston Siefkin
  • Jack Vanier, CK Ranch
  • Karin Westman, Kansas State University

The Next Big Thing

2013 Winners

  • Lars Hanson, BAPP '15; Breakout Sports Performance (1st place tie)
  • David Tierney, Chemistry '13: Kansas Biodiesel Project
    (1st place tie)

2012 Winners

Social Enterprise Division
Rafiki Bags Co.: Kaitlin Long, Logan Gauby

Undergraduate Division
Enviro Feed Bunks: David Heideman, Caleb Wurth, Britni Beck, Grace Bokelman

Graduate Division
Chef Shannon: Shannon Underwood

Entrepreneur of the Year 

Alumnus Entrepreneur of the Year

2013 - Cody Sudmeier, Agility Solutions
2012 - Jon Darbyshire, Archer Foundation
2011 - Dave Dreiling, GTM Sportswear
2010 - Bill Sanford, Symark, LLC

Community Entrepreneur of the Year

2013 - Aaron McGee, Purple Wave Auction
2012 - Julie Haynes, Taco Lucha
2011 - Jack Goldstein, Manhattan Steel & Pipe
2010 - Pat Keating, Keating & Associates
2009 - Mark Knackendafel, Manhattan Trust Compan


Chad Jackson
Center for the Advancement of Entrepreneurship, Interim Director
311 Calvin Hall