A $10,000 first prize in each of two categories. A prize package worth more than $6,600 that includes legal and accounting services and space in the West Virginia University Business Incubator. A golden opportunity to spring into business in West Virginia.
All of these are within reach for the remaining 10 student teams in the West Virginia Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition. The finalists include seven teams from West Virginia University, two teams from Shepherd University and one team from Glenville State College. Each finalist team is awarded $1,000 to offset costs they have incurred in the competition thus far. (A complete list of the finalists appears at the end of this release.)
Finalist teams have survived two rounds of competition after jumping into a record-breaking field of 117 entries. After completing a three- to five-page summary of a business plan idea to enter the first round, 20 semi-finalists were tasked with preparing a written feasibility plan, presenting a two-minute “elevator pitch” and interviewing with competition judges in Round Two. The remaining teams must submit their final business plans by noon on March 27, 2012. To help them with this final task, a mandatory Business Plan Competition Workshop Weekend will be held Feb. 3-4, 2012.
“This is really the home stretch for finalist teams,” said Dr. Nancy McIntyre, associate dean and interim director of the WVU Entrepreneurship Center. The annual statewide business plan competition is hosted by the WVU Entrepreneurship Center, located within the College of Business and Economics.
“Finalists always find that the workshop weekend is very beneficial for them,” she said. “The weekend will be a great opportunity to review ideas about content for their final business plans, which proves to be of great value.”
The 117 entries included 73 entries in the Lifestyle & Innovation category and 44 entries in the Hospitality & Tourism category. A panel of judges from across West Virginia, the region and in various parts of the nation reviewed the proposed business ideas and chose five teams from each category as finalists in the competition. Winners of the two $10,000 cash awards and prize packages will be announced on April 14, 2012.
Lifestyle & Innovation finalist entries include a company that will manufacture boots with interchangeable, custom-designed tops; a new technology in artificial insemination rods for cattle production; a company that creates innovative products for the frail elderly and their caregivers; a compost company that would target restaurants and residential food waste producers; and a dog training and grooming business.
Hospitality and Tourism finalist entries include a tour company for wineries and vineyards; a designated driver transportation service; a takeout/delivery food service that promotes farm-to-table efforts; a mobile food truck that delivers ready-to-eat, gourmet Italian food; and a country music-based bar.
“There is no doubt that this competition provides value, real world experience and opportunity for those who participate,” McIntyre said. “We will continue to bolster even more support and a higher level of commitment for this event because it’s easy to see the good it does. It’s not just beneficial for those who win the competition. It provides experiences that participants will carry with them the rest of their lives. I would also say that the Statewide Business Plan Competition benefits everyone who comes in contact with it, from judges and organizers to mentors and coaches. We continue to get record-breaking entries, and that is evidence of the kind of positive experience it is.”
The Business Plan Competition has seen participation by 546 teams from 14 different West Virginia higher education institutions in the six years since the event went statewide. Prior to this year’s competition, 429 collegiate teams had entered. A total of 10 winning teams have been awarded $100,000 in cash, 59 finalist teams have received $59,000 in cash and more than 100 volunteers from the statewide and regional business communities have assisted student teams. Of the 49 finalist teams in the past five years, 20 have gone on to start West Virginia-based businesses.
Go to www.be.wvu.edu/bpc for further information on the West Virginia Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition.
Lifestyle & Innovation
Bella Boots, Jenna Mullins (West Virginia University)
Bulls-I, Meg Grzeskiewicz (West Virginia University)
Comfort Caregiving Solutions, Beth Montgomery (Shepherd University)
Full Circle Compost, Ruth Mary Oldham (West Virginia University)
Happy Paws Groom & Board, Melissa Campos (Glenville State College)
Hospitality & Tourism
Blue Ridge Wine Tours, Krista Youngblood (Shepherd University)
Don’t Drink N Drive, Eric Watkins (West Virginia University)
Home-style Meals at Snowshoe, Katie Workman (West Virginia University)
Pranzo Veloce, Jameson Holehouse and John Howard (West Virginia University)
Whistlin’ Dixie’s, Brianna Heckert and Alexandra Bay (West Virginia University)
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CONTACT: Nancy McIntyre