BYU names its Entrepreneur of the Year – Adam Edmunds created SilentWhistle

A graduate student who developed a software system that enables companies to gather input from customers, vendors and employees on Friday was named Student Entrepreneur of the Year by Brigham Young University.

By Lesley Mitchell
The Salt Lake Tribune

Adam Edmunds created SilentWhistle to allow companies to electronically elicit information big and small, from something as simple as an employee suggestion on how a company can save money to something as sensitive as an allegation about fraud or sexual harassment.

Edmunds, who was awarded $25,000 in cash and services such as payroll assistance, legal advice and management support, was the only graduate student in the competition.

He plans to be involved in SilentWhistle, which is based in Sandy, another three to five years before attempting to arrange a merger with or acquisition by another company.

"I’m a serial entrepreneur, I’ll be starting companies the rest of my life," he said.

Many former award winners – even finalists – in the long-time BYU competition have gone on "to do some pretty big things," said Joseph Ogden, a BYU spokesman.

Past winners, for example, include Jonathan Coon, founder of online contact lens retailer 1-800 Contacts, and Jonathan Freedman, founder of clothing retailer DownEast Outfitters.

Four finalists in the competition, sponsored by The BYU Center for Entrepreneurship and Association of Collegiate Entrepreneurs, will split $60,000 in cash and services. They are:

No. 2: Paul Lowry, The Builder’s Guide – His company provides a number of publications for homeowners and people building their own homes along the Wasatch Front and in St. George. He said he hopes to expand his six-employee Orem company to other states.

No. 3: Lawton Smith, System Technology Inc. – He purchased Orem-based STI in September of 2003 from owners who wanted out. Smith had worked at STI since 1999, starting out fixing printers and gradually moving into management. When the owners began contemplating a sale, "I saw a golden opportunity," he said, and was able to finance his purchase of the company with no money down. STI was losing money when he purchased the five-employee company, Smith said, but now it is profitable.

No. 4: Brock Henderson, Osmond Designs Inc. – His company, which sells furniture, flooring and appliances, has locations in Pleasant Grove and St. George and plans to open additional locations in Spanish Fork and Lehi. Henderson believes his company’s emphasis on interior design and hiring well-trained employees will help him compete successfully in Utah’s competitive furniture retailing market.

No. 5: Kara Forrest, Provo Fro-Yo – Provo-based Fro-Yo is the newest company among the finalists, opening for business in April. The company sells frozen fat-free and sugar-free frozen yogurt. Forrest is developing a franchise plan for Fro-Yo while working on additional company-owned locations.

Winner and 4 finalists

* Winner:

Adam Edmunds, SilentWhistle LLC Software provider focusing on soliciting feedback from employees, customers and vendors

* Finalists:
Paul Lowry, The Builder’s Guide Publications targeting homeowners and people building their own homes

Lawton Smith, System Technology Inc. Printer service and supply

Brock Henderson, Osmond Designs Inc. Interior design and furniture, flooring and appliance retailer

Kara Forrest, Provo Fro-Yo Retail frozen yogurt

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