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April 19, 2013
Portable blenders may become a wave of the future after a group of Northwest Missouri State University students took the top prize Wednesday at the second annual New Venture Pitch Competition sponsored by the University’s Department of Business.
The senior students – Alex Reid, a marketing management major from Onslo, Iowa; Clayton Rope, a business management major from Clarinda, Iowa; Joshua Jefford, a business management and marketing major from Liberty, Mo.; and Aaron Morris, a financial services major from Fremont, Neb. – were among four groups to pitch their business plan to a panel of current business owners and business professionals during the final round of the competition.
Ultimately, the majority of the judges decided to “invest” in the PortaBlend, the winning group’s idea for a small, battery-powered blender that may be applied to the rim of most cups or mugs.
As a result, Reid, Rope, Jefford and Morris receive a free six-month lease for an office or wet lab at Northwest’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a Constant Contact e-mail marketing package and LivePlan business planning software as well as legal assistance. Their company is known as JAAC, LLC.
The group began developing its pitch after the idea for the PortaBlend struck Reid during a visit to his hometown grocery store. Reid and Jefford handled the marketing plan, while Morris was responsible for finance and Rope was the project manager.
They envision the PortaBlend measuring just a few inches in diameter, being powered by four AAA batteries and selling for as little as $45.
“Most blenders have a base and you plug it in the outlet,” Jefford said. “You can only do that at home or near a power source, so we wanted this to be for an on-the-go lifestyle, something that’s portable and fast.”
Competing against JAAC, LLC in the final round of competition were:
Ten teams consisting of 39 students participated in this year’s contest, which also was open to the public. Sebastian Kline, a student from Central High School in St. Joseph, made the top pitch in the public category and was awarded a $1,000 scholarship to Northwest in addition to a six-month lease at the CIE. He pitched a new kind of pallet designed to make shipping easier.
The annual competition is designed to expose students to the process of building and presenting a business plan as well as encouraging them to consider entrepreneurship as a potential career. Participants explore a potential business idea and then receive valuable feedback from successful entrepreneurs and experienced professionals who fill the judging panel.
“We’re very proud to provide this type of opportunity to our students,” the contest’s organizer, Dr. Ben Blackford, assistant professor of management, said. “Even if their business is not selected, they still get a chance to present, answer questions and interact with the business community and people who someday might be their boss or coworker. “
Brian Weaver, founder and CEO of Overland Park, Kan.-based Anthem Media Group, was the event’s keynote speaker. He is a Northwest alumnus, having earned his Bachelor of Science in communications and philosophy in 1995. During his address, Weaver reviewed the challenges he faced on his way to building his company and urged students to embrace their creativity, research problems and solve them in order to become successful entrepreneurs.
The competition was sponsored by the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Constant Contact, Palo Alto Software, Polsinelli Shughart PC, Spencer Fan Britt & Brown LLP, Harold P. Dugdale Charitable Trust and U.S. Bank.
The 2014 New Venture Pitch Competition is set for April 18. Carl Hughes, a 1976 Northwest alumnus and senior vice president business development at Inergy LP, is scheduled to be the keynote speaker.
For more information about the competition, contact Blackford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 660.562.1282.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
email@example.com | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900
Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468