Students design business plans for competition

Amy Reinhardt

The Washburn School of Business has created a new opportunity for students to design a business plan and compete with their fellow students. This competition encourages students to become entrepreneurs and learn more about the business environment.

The 2016 Business Plan Competition will take place over the next couple months. Students who choose to participate will be judged on their ability to craft a business proposal, perform market research and encompass communication and organizational skills.

“We’re trying to create an entrepreneurial culture,” said David Price, assistant marketing professor. “We’re not just giving them information in classes; we’re giving them the tools to launch a business.”

This event was made possible by the School of Business alumni who gave a gift to sponsor this business plan competition. This interest occurred after Washburn added its Entrepreneurship and Innovation major in fall 2014.

“We want students to get to the point where they can launch a business and they take that leap,” Price said. “We’re trying to make it possible for them to start and that’s our goal.”

This competition is a follow-up to the Pitch Competition that occurred during the 2015 fall semester, which required students to pitch an idea of a product or service in front of a committee in under three minutes.

“The pitch competition is like an idea competition and then in the spring we have the business plan competition to take that idea and expand on it,” Price said.

Following the Business Plan Competition, the School of Business will be holding a third event called the Student Business Accelerator Fund. This will offer students with a business plan the chance to receive funding ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 to start their business.

“From the birth of an idea students can put it down on paper, get help and then get it funded and launched all while they’re in school,” Price said. “So it’s a fantastic opportunity.”

This event is open to any and all Washburn and Washburn Tech students. Students have the option to enter the competition alone or with a team comprised of two to five students.

“The interesting thing about entrepreneurship is that it’s driven by individuals who have that inner drive to pursue an idea, but at the same time it’s usually more effective in teams,” Price said.

Two senior marketing and entrepreneurship double majors, LeighAnn Defendorf and Nate Grieco, will be participating in the spring Business Plan Competition.

“I chose to participate in the 2016 Business Plan Competition because I have an entrepreneurial spirit and I think it is a great opportunity for Washburn students like myself who have an interest in starting their own businesses,” Defendorf said.

Defendorf and Grieco plan on spending the next few weeks perfecting their business plans for submission by seeking out help and advice from faculty members.

“I fully plan on starting early and using the resources that I have available to me, especially the advice that I receive from people such as Dr. David Price and Karl Klein,” Defendorf said.

All entries for the business plan competition will be due March 25. If interested in participating, all forms are available online or in the School of Business office in Henderson Learning Center. Submissions must be Microsoft Word format and emailed to Lisa Hecker at [email protected].

The entries will be judged anonymously by a panel of judges selected from the business community, including bankers and professional entrepreneurs.

“As faculty members we have relationships with students and we’re helping them with their plans and have mentored and advised them, so we want to keep that separate from the judging,” Price said.

Each judge will scale each submission from 1 to 100 and the scores will be averaged to produce a total for the final score to determine the five winners.

On April 15, approximately three weeks after the submission deadline, the winners will be announced and awards will be presented on April 22. The top five winners will receive prize money ranging from $500 to $4,000.

“As a senior at Washburn I am aware and greatly appreciative of all the opportunities that the university offers,” Grieco said. “As of right now I am ecstatic at the opportunity to be able to compete in this event.”