April 24, 2013

Jeanette Grider

Center for Entrepreneurship Names First 'Diamond in the Rough' Student Entrepreneur Awardee

The Center for Entrepreneurship at SLU's John Cook School of Business has recognized the first Diamond in the Rough Student Entrepreneur award recipient. Michael Younkie, a sophomore studying finance, who owns and operates Top Notch Photo Booth, has been awarded $5,000 to help develop his business.

The Center for Entrepreneurship's Diamond in the Rough is the only program at Saint Louis University specifically and exclusively for students who own their own businesses and the program seeks to identify, support and reward the most promising student entrepreneurs.

Each year at least one student who best embodies the key ideal of the John Cook School of Business Entrepreneurship program, "Do good. Do well," will be awarded $5,000. The prize money is intended to cover the student's business expenses and financial growth. In its first year of operation, the program has already seen more than 10 business owners join.

Originally developed by Professor Fred Kiesner of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Diamond in the Rough was brought to St. Louis by local entrepreneur Tim Fogerty, CEO of Bissinger's, to support and develop practicing student entrepreneurs at SLU.

"We want to nurture young people's passion for starting and running their own businesses," Fogarty said. "Starting your own business allows you to establish values that are important to you, and to your family. Giving back to the community and helping others is another important aspect of small business ownership."

Started in February 2012 by brothers Michael and Gregory Younkie, Top Notch Photo Booth provides on-site photo booths for weddings, corporate and birthday parties, and other events.

"Owning and operating my own business is my passion," said Younkie. "The Diamond in the Rough Award will help me expand my company as well as allow me to implement some of the more advanced skills and techniques the Entrepreneurship Center has taught me."

For more information about the Diamond in the Rough program, contact the Center for Entrepreneurship at (314) 977-3850 or email ecenter@slu.edu.

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