Entrepreneurial thinkers wanted

Washington State University students with a “great idea” have the chance this year to turn their dream into an action plan that just might bring $10,000 cash their way.

The Center for Entrepreneurial Studies in the WSU College of Business and Economics is sponsoring its first business plan contest, running from fall through spring, said Jerman Rose, director of the center. “This promotes the university’s role in contributing to significant economic development through innovation.”

The object of the contest is for full-time undergraduate and graduate students to form teams that develop plans for new products or services, including marketing research on sustained profitability and assessment of key feasibility issues. The teams might consist of three or four members and can be interdisciplinary. Rose hopes at least 10 teams take the challenge.

Projects can be triggered by either the identification of a market need for a new or substantially improved product or service or by the identification of a new business that has promise as the basis for a new or substantially improved product or service. All work on the business plans must be original, but the technology used does not have to be. All contestants own the rights to their ideas but must follow trademark and copyright rules and request any necessary permission.

The first of three phases for the contest is beginning. In it, teams — which can be interdisciplinary — will write one or more concept briefs and get feedback from a judge. This phase is not competitive.

The second phase this fall is competitive and will require submission of a business overview, including discussion of the target market, competition, barriers to entry and other issues facing a new venture. Judges will rank all submissions based on the quality of the idea and its communication, on the likelihood of the success of the plan and on the demonstrated knowledge of the entrepreneurial process.

Prizes will be awarded for the best combination of market assessment, technological assessment and comprehensive business planning in support of a viable start-up venture. The top 10 teams at the end of Phase Two will receive cash prizes ranging from $200-$300 and will be encouraged to take their plan to the next step.

Phase Three requires development of a thoroughly written business plan, oral presentations and an elevator pitch for presentations at the Final Business Plan Competition to be held on the WSU campus in spring. Prizes will be $1,000 for third place, $3,000 for second place and the top team will land $5,000 for its success. Money will be split evenly among team members.

“We’re excited about this contest because it will call on participants to be innovative, to demonstrate leadership qualities and to think and act entrepreneurially,” said CBE Dean Len Jessup. “The college and the university value these attributes and believe they will serve as lifelong tools to success for our students.”

Students interested in getting started on the contest should register on forms available through the Entrepreneurship Club or at the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies in Johnson Tower, Room 501. “They will find attending meetings of the club will give information about business plans, and format of the business plan will be presented at business planning seminars,” Rose said.

The next meeting is set for Oct. 23 in Todd Hall, Room 126.

For more information, contact the center at (509) 335-5051 or e-mail to ces@wsu.edu.

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