Student Earns People’s Choice at Entrepreneurship Challenge

Posted: April 15, 2020 | Author: Lyndsey Nelson | Read Time: 3 minutes

Kiana Stoker

Kiana Stoker may not be a business major, but her real-life business experience helped her rise to the top of the Opportunity Quest Business Model Competition, earning a total of $6,000 in prize money, and take People’s Choice at the Utah Entrepreneurship Challenge.

“Kiana is a natural-born entrepreneur,” said Dr. Tyler Stillman, director of Entrepreneurship at SUU. “She also has an exceptional aesthetic sense. So when she started designing and selling products that make things more lovely and beautiful, she had a tremendously successful business almost immediately.”

Stoker’s business, Reece & Co, is an accessory shop with a focus on making accessories women want to wear and began with a personal project.

“I made this tassel and posted it on my personal Instagram story and it exploded,” Stoker explained. “Everyone was asking me where I got it and I realized I could make a business out of this. So I opened up orders and I had a hundred orders in the first week.”

The business found success throughout 2019, growing from a small project to a sustainable company, which managed to outgrow Etsy and Shopify shops before moving to its own site. Throughout the process, Stoker often found herself going to Dr. Stillman for advice. As things continued to grow, Dr. Stillman encouraged Stoker to participate in the Opportunity Quest Business Model Competition.

Opportunity Quest is a competition that asks students to submit their business model, a document outlining the problems your business addresses in order to convince readers that the business is currently functional and has the potential for growth.

Her design aesthetic and previous success helped Stoker to win the competition. As the winner of the Opportunity Quest, Stoker was awarded $5,000 dollars to invest in her business and went on to compete in the Utah Entrepreneurship Challenge hosted by the University of Utah. There, Stoker was awarded the People’s Choice Prize and received another $1,000 dollar prize to put towards her business.

Since the Utah Entrepreneurship Challenge in March, Stoker has also been awarded a prize of $5000 at the S4 Competition and has received the $2000 Alan Hall Outstanding Salesperson Scholarship.

"We are so excited and proud of Kiana,” said Kristina Maine, assistant director of Entrepreneurship. “She has devoted countless hours to building her business. Her dedication and perseverance are evident in her success. She is the true definition of an entrepreneur and we can't wait to watch her soar."

“I know I can run a business but I didn’t know I could go up against other business majors who study this and I won, you know?” Stoker said. “That’s something really rewarding to me. I can go into these competitions not necessarily knowing the definition of business but having the real-world application because I run a business every day.”

Throughout her childhood, Stoker was always thinking of new ways to express her creativity and turn it into a business. At just eight years old, Stoker was making doll clothes to sell to her little sister, but in junior high she took that business savvy to a whole new level, making and selling headbands to her fellow classmates.

“I’ve always loved creating,” said Stoker. “I love using my hands for stuff and I love being my own boss, it’s just a part of me. Then when the opportunity came, I jumped on it and just rolled with it.”

Going forward, Stoker is excited about the opportunity this competition has given her to grow her business. She plans to source new and unique products to keep up with changing style trends. Eventually, Stoker plans to create her own products catered towards her customers.

The Opportunity Quest takes place each January and is open to all SUU students. For more information, students can visit the competition’s website, or visit the Entrepreneurship Center in BUS 115.

Tags: Entrepreneurship School of Business

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