Triple Bottom Line Business Idea Contest Returns to Kuyper’s Campus

Businesses need to make a profit, but there is more to being an effective business person
than making money. 

That’s the idea behind the annual Triple Bottom Line Business Idea Contest at Kuyper, which returns to campus on April 18 for its ninth year. Organized by Marc Andreas, program director and professor in Kuyper’s Business Leadership Department, the contest shows a new way to view business, Andreas said. 

“We’re taking a different approach to thinking about business where we balance the three ‘Ps’: people, planet, and profit,” Andreas said. “All too often, businesses make a profit at the expense of people and the planet, but we believe that financial, social and environmental responsibility can work together.”

When Andreas first started teaching at Kuyper, he struck up a conversation with Dr. Eric Hoogstra, an adjunct professor in Kuyper’s business department and Kuyper College Board of Trustees member, about how to share the Triple Bottom Line with students. They imagined combining ethical business practices with a pitch competition similar to the reality show Shark Tank.

A decade later, this idea has become an annual contest drawing participants across West Michigan. Dozens of teams apply to participate, and the top 10-12 teams are invited to present during the final round. 

Contributions from local business partners make it possible for participants to compete for cash prizes of $1,000, $500 and $250 for first, second and third place, respectively. The school with the winning team also earns a matching prize.

Once the final teams are selected, Kuyper business students mentor the high school competitors from concept to pitch. 

“One or two Kuyper students are there as a sounding board to provide students with information and help them practice their presentations,” Andreas said

A first-place finisher from Zion Christian High School created “bracelets for the beach,” a business selling aquatic-themed bracelets for beach visitors and designating a portion of the proceeds to beach clean-ups. Another finalist from Potter’s House High School formed “Sprinkles in Time,” a bakery using healthy, locally sourced ingredients and working with people with Down syndrome.

Over the years, Andreas has been consistently impressed by the creativity and dedication demonstrated in the pitches. What excites Andreas most is seeing a new generation embrace sustainable business practices and put them into action. 

“I have been happy to see how today’s high school students get this idea,” Andreas said. “They might not have heard of the triple bottom line, but they already have that mindset. As more people start to think this way, it looks good for the future.”

More information about the Triple Bottom Line Ideas Contest can be found at

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