La Crosse middle school student wins annual ‘Wisconsin YES!’ youth biz plan contest

La Crosse middle school student wins annual ‘Wisconsin YES!’ youth biz plan contest

YESElizabeth Hlavacka, an 8th grader at Aquinas Middle School in La Crosse, is the grand prize winner in Wisconsin YES!, a statewide youth business plan contest for students in middle and high school.

Hlavacka got the idea for her Stuff’n with Noth’n product after realizing the number of plastic bags her family used to pack school lunches. This led her to consider alternative ways to wrap lunch items. Her idea is a reusable, eco-friendly container with uniquely designed compartments that eliminate the need for plastic bags. When the product is unfolded, it can act as a placemat allowing the user to eat almost anywhere.

Hlavacka will present her winning idea June 3 at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference in Madison during the awards luncheon for the Governor’s Business Plan Contest. For more information on the conference, visit

In addition to taking steps to create a product from her business idea, Hlavacka plays volleyball, soccer and competes year-round in basketball. She is completing her Silver Award in Girl Scouts and is a 4H member. She will participate in the junior goat show at the La Crosse County Fair this summer. Hlavacka is interested in studying veterinary/animal science or business in college. She will attend Aquinas High School in the fall.

Students submitted their ideas in a 250-word online summary to compete in Phase 1 of the contest. Professionals from across the state served as judges, provided feedback and scored the ideas. About two-dozen entries were selected to move on to Phase 2, where they submitted 1,000-word executive summaries covering company overview; product or service description; customer definition; market description, size and sales strategy; competition; management team; financials; and capital needs.

Second place was awarded to Rebecca Perl of Nicolet High School for her entry DiabeTECH, an implant, app and insulin pump connected by low-energy Bluetooth technology to make managing diabetes easier. Colin Gray-Hoehn of Brookfield East High School tied for third place with his entryEat Out, a mobile app platform for community reviews of local, independent restaurants. He shared the title with Renee Kar-Johnson of James Madison Memorial High School and her entry Eco-Bandage, an eco-friendly bandage made from banana leaves.

Other participating finalists in the fourth annual contest, including the school and names of team members, were:

  • Abstract Energy (Delavan-Darien High School): Haley Gilson and Alexis Mancin;
  • Cow Buddies (Longfellow Middle School): Kortney Lorenzen;
  • Crowd-sourced Concept Foods (Wayland Academy): Tianrui Ren;
  • Dance Spectroscopy for Autism (Longfellow Middle School): Angela Glowacki and Kortney Lorenzen;
  • DAP Manufacturing (Longfellow Middle School): Henry Wellenstein;
  • Equation Solver (Crivitz Middle School): Matt Cherry, Kailee Golla and Leandra Klaver;
  • Fashionista Headband Camera (Cambridge): Emma Hanisko;
  • Find My Bus (Forest Park Middle School): Ashley Kampa, Katie Lehman, Alexa Moran and Julia Paulos;
  • Free Online Tutoring (University School of Milwaukee): Anshul and Amogh Bhatnagar;
  • Judges Live (Longfellow Middle School): Jack Stuart;
  • KidZips (Pembine High School): Seth Barribeau;
  • Ludus Positus (Crivitz Middle School): Nick Lesperance, Mackenzie Versland and Tommy Whalen;
  • SafetyKeyBoard (Longfellow Middle School): Pable Dale;
  • SmartMicrowave (Forest Park Middle School): Jacob Selensky;
  • Style (Longfellow Middle School): Sienna Daniels, Margaret Kasdorf, Anna Lowe and Sasha Simons;
  • The Beat Pit (Notre Dame of De Pere Middle School): Theodore Van Straten;
  • The Everlast (Oregon High School): Hayden Storms;
  • ThunderStorm Speakers (Delavan-Darien High School): John Loomer, Chris McKay and Hunter Schwarz.

The Wisconsin Technology Council produces the contest, with major support from IBM and WEA Trust. Additional support is provided by the Wisconsin Technical College System. Contest partners include Department of Financial Institutions, Department of Public InstructionMake a Difference Wisconsin, Project Lead the Way WisconsinSTEM Forward, Wisconsin Association of School BoardsWisconsin Society of Science Teachers and Wisconsin Association of School Business Officials

Modeled after the successful Governor’s Business Plan Contest, Wisconsin YES! is designed to teach students how innovation in science and technology fields can be developed into plausible business plans.  It is an opportunity for students to explore the connections between science, technology and entrepreneurship, and for educators and judges to cultivate an interest in these arenas. Visit to learn more.