A late night meal made from local ingredients is hard to find in Ashland, Wisconsin or anywhere in small town America, for that matter.
Northland College business senior Jesse DiLillo and junior Matt Hoszko set out to solve this problem at the Wisconsin Innovation Network (WIN)’s Lake Superior Business and Technology Conference in August. The conference, held at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Ashland, is a symposium for business students and entrepreneurial professionals from across the state. WIN is an initiative of the Wisconsin Technology Council.
The conference encourages entrepreneurism and invites professionals to present their best ideas. DiLillo and Hoszko went up against engineers and other professionals when they proposed “A Taste of the North: Taking Advantage of a Food Distribution Gap in North Wisconsin.”
Their idea won the Green Energy prize, the Sustainability award, and tied for first place overall. They were awarded $2,500 and asked to compete at the state level.
The conference theme, “Shaping Our Future Through Innovation,” encouraged participants to focus on technological breakthroughs and novel approaches to business.
DiLillo and Hoszko’s winning business idea zeroed in on a niche of late night foods made from locally-sourced ingredients from the Chequamegon Bay region and Wisconsin, creating a restaurant business from the ground up.
Hailing from Ontario, Hoszko wanted to bring a bit of Canada to northern Wisconsin with his home country staple of poutine, a dish of french-fried potatoes topped with curd cheese and a tomato-based sauce or gravy.
DiLillo and Hoszko are both quick to credit the college’s business and the sustainable community development departments for their knowledge and support.
“Entrepreneurship at Northland is expanding to include themes of sustainability and socially responsible business practices,” Hoszko said. “And right now entrepreneurial education at Northland is really starting to take off.”