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Student wins business competition for business idea tailored to autistic children

News Release: 

Gateway Technical College student Beth Tyykila’s entrepreneurial concept for a “sensory palace” business focused on providing a fun atmosphere tailored to the needs of autistic children won first place in the college’s second annual “Shark Tank”-like competition held Nov. 20 during the celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week.

Gateway’s version of the Shark Tank mimics the TV show, in that students pitch their idea for a business or an invention to a panel of judges. Prizes were awarded to the top participants, and a free one-on-one business coaching session was available to all participants prior to the event.

“It was a great experience, several people on the panel said they like the idea and I should run with it,” said Tyykila, of Racine. “It was a real encouragement to me.”

Tyykila came up with the idea for the sensory palace – filled with rooms that stimulate all five of the human senses – after talking to parents of autistic children who wanted to set up a sensory room at their home but could not afford it. The business provides a more affordable and place for autistic children to have fun and engage in activities tailored to themselves and their families.

 Tyykila won a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 as well as a trophy for her winning proposal.

Other proposal winners included:

Second place, Goeff Clay, Racine. Proposal: Cordpak, which replaces the battery pack in a cordless power tool with an adapter that allows the user to run the tool off of a standard electrical outlet. Clay won a trophy and a $100 Gateway Workforce and Economic Development Division professional development gift certificate.

Third place, Tania Cruz, Racine. Proposal: A Christian bookstore for Racine that offers Spanish literature, apparel, costumes, movies, and much more to Spanish-speaking Christians. Cruz won a $25 gift card to a local bookstore.

Fourth place, Mavra Papadatos, Kenosha. Proposal: Mavra's Greek Olive Oil, which imports extra virgin olive oil from Greece grown on her family’s farm, a tradition they’ve done for more than 100 years. Papadatos won a $25 Yardarm gift certificate.

Fifth place, Chris LaLonde, Union Grove. Proposal: Rent a Nerd, which offers mobile computer assistance with an emphasis on education for senior citizens. LaLonde won a $25 Yardarm gift certificate.

Sixth place, Allison Viesca, Racine. Proposal: Restaurant startup that features her unique spaghetti sauce. Viesca won a $25 Yardarm gift certificate.

For more information on the competition, please contact Kate Walker at (262) 898-7410.