Skip to main content
Center News

Powder Baby Founder Kylee Black Wins the 2024 Utah Entrepreneur Challenge

Brigham Young University senior Kylee Black sat in anxious anticipation as teams were called up to the stage of the 2024 Utah Entrepreneurship Challenge. Third place was announced, then second place was awarded. For Black, the next moments were unforgettable. “I totally cried when I won,” she said. “It was incredible.”

Group of people in business casual attire pose for photo with oversized check for $30,000.
Kylee Black (third from right) won the 2023-24 Utah Entrepreneur Challenge, a statewide, collegiate, business-model competition managed by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute at the University of Utah and sponsored by Zions Bank.
Photo courtesy of the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, University of Utah.

Seven years ago, Black never would have guessed she’d be the founder of an award-winning startup. “I never imagined myself here, but I’ve always been interested in entrepreneurship,” Black says. When she started college in 2018, she found herself drawn to entrepreneurship despite being enrolled in the Utah State University design program at the time. “I always tried to sign up for or audit at least one entrepreneurship class each semester,” Black says.

After returning from a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Black transferred into the BYU advertising program and decided to add an introductory entrepreneurship class to her schedule, taught at the time by adjunct professor Case Lawrence. “I was feeling a little lost in my program,” says Black. “I didn’t want to work in an ad agency. And I thought, well, I’d love to be a business owner.”

In Lawrence’s class, she was taught to stretch her mind and see problems in the world to fix, “I realized, I’ve been complaining about it for so long: someone needs to fix dry shampoo. It sucks,” Black says. “That’s how it all started.”

The idea sparked a fire of passion inside of Black, and she set off on a personal passion project. “I’ve always hated aerosol cans and the white cast traditional dry shampoo leaves on the hair. I became obsessed with researching powders and their absorbencies,” Black says.

She took the idea to Lawrence, and they began to meet every other week to pull her new business together. From there she started product testing and refining what would become her end product: an absorbent, all-natural, dry-shampoo powder. She launched her company Powder Baby Dry Shampoo in May of 2023 and has since sold over 2,000 bottles.

Black relied heavily on the resources provided by the BYU Marriott School of Business as she jumped into life as a business owner. “The Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology has been unbelievably helpful,” Black says. “I’m a student in the BYU advertising program, which isn’t part of the business school, but the Rollins Center has made an effort to reach out, and I have felt very connected.”

In addition to support from BYU Marriott, Black relies on her faith to guide her forward. “I feel like every time I hit a point in my business where I don't know what to do next, God puts something new in my path,” she says.

One of the greatest opportunities she says God guided her toward was the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge—a statewide competition where college entrepreneurs from across Utah compete for the title of best student-run business. At the end of the competition, $100,000 in prize money is distributed among 20 finalist teams, including a grand first-place prize of $30,000.

“Someone in the Rollins Center texted the opportunity to me four hours before the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge application was due,” Black says. She scrambled to pull together a six-page business model and managed to apply just minutes before the deadline. Black was accepted and began to prepare to represent BYU as one of the two Brigham Young University teams in attendance.

For Black, it was both nerve-racking and exciting to compete alongside other student entrepreneurs. “Leading up to this competition, I didn’t sleep,” Black says. “I was nervous it would be cutthroat, but everyone there was really friendly. There were so many awesome business ideas there.”

The teams were tasked with pulling together a company pitch, which they presented to a panel of judges in a three-round, multi-day event held at the University of Utah. “I’ve spent so much time on my business, and I think that gave me a bit of a leg up on the competition. I remember coming out of the second round of pitches and feeling like if I had another chance, I wouldn’t have done anything differently.”

On the day of the final event in March, Black and her team waited for the results to be announced with the same excited nerves that they brought into the competition. “A lot of people I had been intimidated by got called up for third place and second place and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, we could win this,’ ” Black says. “Then they called our name. I will never forget that moment. I totally gave the executive of Zions Bank a hug, which I don’t think he was expecting.”

Black accepted the larger-than-life $30,000 check in front of flashing cameras. She plans to invest all the money back into her company and says she can’t wait to expand operations. “We really need the money if we want to grow. This win changes everything,” says Black. “It was just one of those moments where I felt God in every step.”


Written by Shay Putnam