McNeely Center Hosts Annual Dinner
The Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship celebrated the 2018-19 academic year by awarding three honors April 30 at the Founders Room, Quadrangle Building, Saint John’s University.
The center selected Edelbrock Greenhouse as its Student Venture of the Year. Triink was named the Entrepreneur Scholar Venture of the Year, and Ben Trnka was named the center’s Volunteer of the Year.
Edelbrock Greenhouse, located in Flynntown on the SJU campus, focuses on sustainability producing organic leafy greens. The greenhouse provides fresh greens to the on-campus dining services, members of the College of Saint Benedict and SJU community and the Minnesota Street Market, St. Joseph.
A seven-student team, led by general manager and SJU senior Gary Harala, saw the greenhouse turn a profit for the first time since its founding in 2013. It also implemented several social media goals and created a succession plan to maintain knowledgeable leaders from semester to semester.
Triink is a student venture created by SJU juniors Joe Caughey and Bardia Bijani Avil. Together, they created a multi-purpose tool known as the Pickaxe, which is a stainless steel key ring geared toward beer and spirits enthusiasts. Among its uses are a can opener, bottle opener, screwdriver and box opener.
They took their project to Kickstarter and raised over $8,300 – 111 percent of their goal – in 35 days.
Trnka, a visiting assistant professor of accounting and finance at CSB/SJU, was honored for mentoring entrepreneurial students.
“Ben is always excited to see his students and is always excited about their ideas,” one student said. “When I see him around campus I always stop to chat and we'll often talk about our entrepreneurial endeavors together. He makes it known that he's nearly always available to meet up, even outside of center mentor hours.”
Six student ventures were also added to the Entrepreneur Scholars’ Wall of Fame – The Move, Ravivé Restoration, Greta Lee Design, Color Outside the Box, Hanna Degen and Triink. A total of 55 student ventures have been included in the Wall of Fame since the center’s founding 16 years ago.