April 24, 2012
Business Plan Competition helps students gain entrepreneurial experience
Some Northwest Missouri State University students and aspiring entrepreneurs got a taste of the real world this spring when they tried selling their business plans to business professionals during the University’s inaugural Business Plan Competition.
The objective of the competition was to encourage students to consider entrepreneurship as a potential career and help prepare them for such a path.
A total of 10 teams competed, and four teams advanced to the final round April 5. Aquaticare, the makers of an innovative product designed to ease pool cleaning and maintenance was declared the winner. Students on the winning team received the Dave and Leslie Ackman Entrepreneurship Scholarship, which funds three credit hours.
Students on the Aquaticare team were Amy Cambridge, a senior marketing and management major from Omaha, Neb.; Yahaya Gwamma, a senior marketing and management major from Mount Pleasant, Iowa; Danny Apgar, a senior management major from Raytown; and Shawnta Addison, a senior business management major from Kansas City, Mo.
Dr. Ben Blackford, an assistant professor of marketing and management at Northwest, coordinated the competition.
“Regardless of whether the students intend to become entrepreneurs after graduation, they gained valuable real-world experience presenting to and interacting with knowledgeable members of the business community,” Blackford said. “We greatly appreciate the judges sharing their experience with, and providing feedback to, the students.”
A panel of 10 judges, who included a business journalist, entrepreneurs, an attorney and business leaders, grilled each of the teams with questions and critiques during preliminary and final presentations of their business plans. But the professionals also were there to share their experiences and insight.
“It’s a great opportunity,” said Jake Dea, a senior business management and marketing major from Auburn, Neb. “It’s a good learning experience that gives us an opportunity to take what we’ve learned in the classroom, put it all together and present it to professionals who are doing it in the real world.”
While the competition consisted of two timed rounds of oral presentations, teams were judged on the effectiveness and persuasiveness of their presentations, innovation and quality of ideas, the competitive advantage of their proposed businesses, effective discussion of financials and proposed management teams.
The judges were instructed to base their final decisions on how likely they would be to invest their own money in one of the proposals. Judges laid down “Booth Bucks” for the plan they liked most, and the team with the most bucks won the competition.
The Aquaticare team’s proposed product allows pool owners and maintenance crews to clean and maintain their pools without shutting off the pump, which in turn keeps the system running and decreases the chance of the pump failing. Apgar said the team based its plan on things he picked up while working for a pool maintenance company.
The other finalists consisted of Cat and the Hound, a proposal for an arcade-bar combination business in Maryville that would have primarily catered to youth; Glory Rides Bar & Grill, a Smithville-based restaurant where patrons could get their motorcycles serviced or detailed while they dined; and Liberty Hookah, a high-quality hookah lounge targeting college students and young professionals interested in an alternative social hangout.
In addition to the competition, a lunch featured Northwest alumnus and businessman Melvin D. Booth as the keynote speaker. Since graduating in 1967, Booth has led multibillion dollar companies worldwide. He and his wife, Valorie, are active in many educational and philanthropic causes. They established The Melvin D. and Valorie G. Booth College of Business and Professional Studies at Northwest.
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