Students get chance to win money for entrepreneurship

Susie Thomas
Daily Universe
October 26 2004

BYU's Marriott School of Management will kick off its 12th annual Business Plan Competition Thursday night and invites all students to participate for a chance to win the funds and assistance needed to start a successful entrepreneurship.

"I like to think of the business plan competition as the capstone of my BYU education," said Brant Walker, A BYU graduate and last year's winner of the business plan competition. "I learned more in the competition about entrepreneurship than all of my classes combined."

Dave Smith, director of this year's Business Plan Competition, said this experience allows students from all over campus to submit a business plan idea for a chance to win about $50,000 in funds and in-kind gifts to put toward launching a successful business.

Venture capitalists and founders of The Center for Entrepreneurship judge an average of 50 submissions during each year's competition, allocating the grand prize to the most unique and promising idea.

Although only one idea wins the grand prize, Smith said many other entrants receive prizes to assist with the start-up of their businesses, and all entrants receive valuable information about creating a successful business.

Applicants will receive advice and mentoring free of charge from established entrepreneurs throughout the competition's events.

Smith said the competition is now one of the largest and most reputable of its kind in the nation.

At last year's competition in April, judges believed Brant Walker, a BYU graduate from Canby, Ore., had a promising idea. They chose his plan for the company Superoots, a manufacturer and distributor of air-pot plant containers. Walker received $50,000 in cash and in-kind gifts including assistance in marketing, finances and legal advisement.

Walker said since winning the competition he and his partners have received additional mentoring and have continued to be successful in competitions nationwide. They will be featured in the November 2004 issue of Fortune Magazine, he said.

"I would expect next year's winners would do just as well," Walker said. "If I can do it with a nursery pot, then the sky is the limit!"

Other businesses that have flourished after the competition include 1-800-CONTACTS, Open Air Cinema, uSight and Property Solutions.

Smith explained that after the kick-off there are six more events scheduled until the presentation of the final awards on April 1, 2005. These events include a marketing forum, an elevator pitch and an idea competition.

Don Livingstone, a BYU professor and director of The Center for Entrepreneurship, said he thinks the competition is a fantastic opportunity for all students to learn skills that will benefit them throughout life.

"The winners in the last two competitions have been undergraduate student teams," he said. "Proving that this is not just a competition for graduate level business students."

The kick-off event will be Thursday at 7 p.m. in the WSC Ballroom. All students are invited to enjoy free pizza and root beer and to enter to win free prizes, including various gift certificates and a mini iPod.

Dave Bateman, president of Property Solutions, the 2003 winner of the competition, will be the keynote speaker at the kickoff event.

Details of the program and a timeline of these events and deadlines for the competition can be located on the Web site: Other information can be found at The Center for Entrepreneurship in the Marriott School of Management.

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