BYU Students Named Finalists in Business Plan Competition

Nate Hawley
Daily Universe
April 13 2004

Two teams of BYU student entrepreneurs are finalists in the national business plan competition Venture Bowl.

This is the third year of the Venture Bowl, which is sponsored by the National Institute for Entrepreneurship, and according to Suzanne Isack, the executive director of the institute, there were 100's of entries. Only BYU and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have two teams in the top 12.

"This year we found the quality of teams to be much higher than they were in the past," Isack said. "It seemed as though this year is the first time we were getting plans that seemed to be by-and-large in the realm of reality."

Property Solutions and Shaggy Bag are the two BYU teams whose business plans took them to the finals. They will be competing for up to $1 million in funding, an opportunity to open the NASDAQ Stock Market and a week-long Venture Bowl boot camp where the winning company will receive advice from industry professionals.

Property Solutions won the BYU business plan competition last year and then last November won the Fortune magazine competition. The company, which includes business student David Bateman and recent graduate Benjamin Zimmer, develops software to help landlords manage their apartment buildings.

"None of us got to this point with anything except for our business plan," Bateman said. "There was no presentation prior to this point, so I think we have a little bit of an advantage in that some of the other teams may have got here just off the merits of their business plans, whereas they may not be that good of presenters, but we think that is what ultimately dictates the outcome of the competition."

Shaggy Bag, run by business student Barry Ehlert, produces and sells furniture similar to LoveSacs, but with a few marked differences. His company offers multiple sizes and fabrics and the foam inside the bags is different from the normal bean bag. His business plan earned him a spot in the semi-finals of this year's BYU competition.

"I just revised my business plan and am sending new copies to them," Ehlert said. "I am going to have a great presentation and then just make sure I have my information down for possible questions they may ask."

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