By Sue McMurray, WSU Carson College of Business

PULLMAN, Wash. – Twenty-eight student-led business plan teams from across the globe gathered at Washington State University’s (WSU) Carson College of Business over the weekend to compete in the 13th annual WSU Business Plan Competition.

“It’s invigorating to see the competition grow over the years,” said Dave Hunt, founder and CEO of Assured Independence and competition judge. “Not only has the number of teams increased, we have never seen fiercer competition or more thoughtful proposals. These student teams have demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit and business savvy to bring their projects to life.”

WSU teams from the Pullman campus, international teams from China, Switzerland and Tanzania and Washington high school students showcased their innovative ideas before panels of academics and industry professionals.

Teams anticipate final placings at the Business Plan Competition Awards Ceremony.
Teams anticipate final placings at the Business Plan Competition Awards Ceremony.

The top five collegiate teams were awarded prize money, with the winning team, Go KEFI, receiving $15,000. Four high school teams competed; the winning team, One Stone Photography from Mead High School in Spokane, won $5,000.

Go-KEFI, an experience based travel website, has recently seen success in other competitions, winning Startup Weekend Spokane and the Inland Northwest Business Plan Competition. They will continue their journey next week at the University of Washington Business Plan Competition’s investment round.

“The Business Plan Competition provides a unique opportunity for students from diverse majors across campus to come together to create multidisciplinary teams,” said Marie Mayes, director of the WSU Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. “The most successful teams leverage the diverse perspectives and skills of their members, which helps them overcome some of the key problems that can plague startups.”

During the two-day competition, teams were judged on presentation, developing a solution for a customer problem, value proposition, competitive advantages, market and sales strategy, management, financials and offering an investment analysis.

In addition to sponsoring the grand prizes, the Herbert B. Jones Foundation also sponsored merit awards, which included: best written plan, best presentation, best technology venture and best social impact business, each worth $2,500. Several teams had the opportunity to receive intellectual property consultations through the support of Lee & Hayes, a law firm in Spokane, Wash., and consulting services from event sponsor FedIMPACT.

From left: Marie Mayes, director, WSU Center for Entrepreneurial Studies; GoKEFI members Troy Carpenter, Derek Hyatt, Monica Bomber, Amanda Scott, Travis Person;  Ken Butterfield, chair, Department of Management, Information Systems, and Entrepreneurship; Chip Hunter, incoming dean, Carson College of Business.
From left: Marie Mayes, director, WSU Center for Entrepreneurial Studies; GoKEFI members Troy Carpenter, Derek Hyatt, Monica Bomber, Amanda Scott, Travis Person; Ken Butterfield, chair, Department of Management, Information Systems, and Entrepreneurship; Chip Hunter, incoming dean, Carson College of Business.

Winners of the high school competition were announced after the awards gala on Friday, April 24. The 24 collegiate teams selected to participate in the presentation round pitched their business plans on Friday, with six teams advancing to the finals on Saturday. The finalists presented to the judges, who determined the overall winners. The champions were announced this afternoon at the competition’s lunch and awards ceremony.

Overall winners for the Business Plan Competition included:

College League

First place: Go KEFI – Travel website that plans vacations based off the user’s desired experiences and budget. Users describe their ideal trip through an interactive survey that asks about budget, climate, accommodations, travel time, and desired experiences.

Amanda Scott, Monica Bomber, Troy Carpenter, Derek Hyatt, Travis Person

Second place: Co-Optical – Medical device start-up creating a non-invasive and continuous blood glucose monitor offering a painless and convenient alternative to the current methods used to aid in diabetes management.

Samuel Byrd, Zane Duke, Amber Graviet, Qassem Naim

Third place: Salud! – Counter-top automatic cocktail machine that enables users to enjoy a variety of single-serve cocktails without the need to separately purchase mixers and other ingredients.

Mary Blevins, Jonathan Marsh, Steven McCutcheon, Simbiat Yusuff

Fourth place: Surfacide Solutions LLC – An antimicrobial coating “[Cu]poxy” that harnesses the natural antimicrobial properties of copper to proactively and continuously protect against viral and bacterial transmission from high touch surfaces.

Sam Robertson, Kristin Bryant, Connor Harber, Christina Crow, Brian Gabriel

Fifth place: SkyScan – Custom, light-weight, power efficient sense and avoid solutions (SAA) that addresses Federal Aviation Administration mid-air collision concerns for companies that develop and operate large, unmanned aerial vehicles commonly known as drones.

Sam Fosberg, Noel Wang, Jeff Epperson, Nicole Hessner

Honorable Mention: Indy Campers – Modified, affordable automobiles equipped with camping essentials for traveling throughout Switzerland’s most sought out-locations.

Jokull Egilsson, Daniel Fridriksson, Hongcun Liu, Maria Thorsdottir, Grimur Ulfarsson

Herbert B. Jones Foundation Merit Award Winners:

Best written plan: Go KEFI (description above)

Best presentation: Co-Optical (description above)

Best technology venture: Neufinity – High-tech gaming headset allowing users to move in-game characters by imagining the character’s movement. The headset works by identifying changes in the brain when the user thinks certain types of thoughts.

Members: Kristopher Perry, Philip Pitts, Megan Caruso, Brian Senf, Emily Whitehead

Best social impact business: Co-Optical (description above)

High School League

First place: One Stone Photography – $5,000 prize

Member: Keely Liles – Mead High School

Second place: M&P Batting Cages – $3,500 prize

Members: Payton Utzman, Mike Peterson – Pullman High School

Third place: VolunteerMe – $2,500 prize

Members: Rianne Ellingwood, Kassidy Newsom, Blair Waiting, Conner Breneman – Riverpoint Academy

Fourth Place: TekMonkey – $1,000 prize

Members: Tanmay Garg, Andrew Bailey – Pullman High School

Contacts:

Marie Mayes, WSU College of Business, 509-335-5628, mmayes@wsu.edu

Sue McMurray, WSU College of Business, 509-335-7578, sue.mcmurray@wsu.edu