Hope College senior Kylen Blom was named one of two winners in the January “5x5” entrepreneurship competition held in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, Jan. 31.
Blom won $2,000 in support of “My Great Lake,” a start-up company focused on celebrating the Great Lakes.
Through the monthly “5x5” event, five entrepreneurs chosen previously through online voting each have five minutes to present five slides to a panel of five judges for a chance at $5,000 in grant money in support of their effort. The competition takes place on the last Tuesday of each month at the Grand Rapids Art Museum. “My Great Lake” shared the January 2012 prize with “Hey! Grand Rapids! Let’s Eat!!!,” which received $3,000.
Blom established “My Great Lake” with fellow Holland resident Jonathan Koop, founder of Add-a-Lingua. Featured online at www.mygreatlakeonline.com, the company offers apparel—currently t-shirts and sweatshirts--themed for each of the five Great Lakes as well as for Michigan, with a portion of all proceeds from sales donated to the Alliance for the Great Lakes, a non-profit dedicated to conservation of the lakes. The company’s longer-term goal is to develop events based on the idea of celebrating the lakes, with activities such as sailing regattas, triathlons, fishing tournaments and beach-cleaning challenges.
Blom intends to use the “5x5” award to expand the company’s product line and to help fund a summer 2012 road-trip visit to all of the Great Lakes to build awareness of My Great Lake and its vision. His current efforts include seeking additional support/sponsorship for the summer trip.
Blom is a communication and management dual major who is also actively involved in the Hope Entrepreneurship Initiative (HEI), a program of the college’s Center for Faithful Leadership that focuses on the entrepreneurial process via activities including courses and a summer program; idea and business plan competitions; fellowships; community advisers; and regional partnerships.
He is the son of the Rev. Kelvin and Connie Blom of Holland, and a 2008 graduate of Holland Christian High School. His activities at the college have also included the Outdoor Adventure Club and studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland, in the spring of 2010.