HAMDEN, CT — Quinnipiac University student Kostas Sousoulas, of Branford, will put his thirst for business to the test at the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) national competition on March 6 in Kansas City, Missouri.
Sousoulas, a sophomore entrepreneurship major, is the founder of Yimello Smoothies, which won Connecticut’s first-ever (GSEA) regional competition in November.
“I am truly honored to have the opportunity to represent my university and the amazing state of Connecticut in a national entrepreneurship competition,” Sousoulas said.
He was one of two finalists selected to compete in early November for statewide honors, during which student entrepreneurs presented their businesses, leadership skills and entrepreneurial practices to a judging panel of local entrepreneurs and EO members.
Sousoulas founded Yimello while attending Hamden Hall High School. The business creates all-natural, gourmet, non-GMO smoothies aimed at making it easy and convenient for consumers to be health conscious.
“There is no better feeling than to see a business go from an idea to a fully functional operation,” he said.
With the state win, Sousoulas received a cash prize of $500, plus an all-expenses-paid trip to nationals, where a winner will be selected to represent the United States in the 2017 global finals in Frankfurt, Germany.
Yimello Smoothies, which started with Sousoulas and his girlfriend, Victoria Tavares, selling the healthy drinks out of a food truck, is expanding the business to offer pre-packaged, perfectly portioned smoothie bags in which fruit is flash frozen at the perfect ripeness. Customers will be able to make their own 16-ounce smoothies by blending the contents of the bag with fruit juice or water.
The bags come in three flavors – South Beach, Strawberry Banana Blast and Berry Good Breakfast – with no added sugar, thickeners or artificial products. The product is expected to hit retail shelves in the upcoming weeks, including at Common Grounds in Hamden and Branford.
The GSEA competition require that applicants be actively enrolled as an undergraduate at a recognized college or university and primarily responsible for the operation of a revenue-generating business for at least six months prior to competition.
The businesses must be structured as for-profit or social enterprise and must have generated at least $500 in revenue or received $1,000 in investments at the time of application.
In less than 20 years, the student program has become one of the largest and fastest-growing global competitions in terms of school partners and student participants.