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Sustainability, Seniors New to 2013 Business Plan Competition

Dylan Fox of Crowdvance and Jim Chung, director of the GW Office of Entrepreneurship, spoke at the kick-off of the 2013 Business Plan Competition.

As it marks its fifth year, the GW Business Plan Competition is expanding in 2013 with new prizes for the best ideas in sustainable technology and meeting the needs of senior citizens who struggle with hunger, isolation or finding affordable housing.

The 2013 competition kicked off Oct. 16 with speeches and a reception – complete with birthday cake – at GWSB that looked ahead and celebrated how far the competition has come since John Rollins, adjunct professor of entrepreneurship in GWSB’s Department of Management and the competition’s founder, came up with the idea.

“I may have had the idea in the beginning, but I want to thank you for all you’ve done to make it successful,” Rollins told an audience of students and competition alumni, mentors and judges.

The competition is open to individuals or teams of up to four people who develop written business plans and make oral presentations to the judges.  At least 50 percent of the members of each team must be GW alumni, currently enrolled students or faculty – and one member must be a current student.

The final application deadline is Jan. 28, 2013, with winners announced in April.

The competition has grown significantly from its first year, when fewer than 100 teams, primarily from GWSB, competed for $30,000 in cash prizes donated by Florida Gov. Rick Scott and his wife, Ann. Last year, the competition had a record 144 teams representing all 13 GW schools and colleges competing for $50,000 in cash prizes. Winning teams also receive noncash prizes, such as free legal, consulting and financial advice.

“Here, we really have a concerted effort to try to provide entrepreneurial training for all students at our university,” said Jim Chung, director of the GW Office of Entrepreneurship, one of the competition’s co-sponsors.

“There’s no excuse for someone to come into a start-up from GW and saying, ‘I have no idea what to do with my start-up,’” Chung said.  Other co-sponsors include GWSB, other GW schools and offices, private businesses and the AARP Foundation, which is offering $5,000 in 2013 for the best business plan that meets senior citizens’ needs.

Patrick Landers, the foundation’s manager of strategic planning, said the challenge should appeal to teams’ analytical sides and tap into any desire to use business to improve society – in this case by helping millions of seniors who struggle with hunger, isolation or keeping affordable housing.

“You are the heroes we need,” Landers said.

Jon Halpern, a junior and co-founder of AthleteTrax, a web-based client management platform for collegiate athletic administrations and student athletes that won the 2012 second-place, undergraduate and audience choice awards, said the competition is invaluable in making students analyze, in practical terms, whether their ideas are workable.

“The business plan competition forced us to sit down and think,” said Halpern, whose business is now testing software on three GW teams.  “It gave us the opportunity to really think through where the business would go and how things are going to unfold.”

Halpern said he would encourage anyone “to sign up if you even have the smallest idea.  See how it fleshes out when you put it down on paper.”

Other speakers included Jamila Braithwaite, vice president for Capital One Bank, a competition sponsor; Ed Martinez, retired founder and CEO of MTZG, a global resource provider of communication platforms and a competition judge; Tom McDougall, director of DC Smart Staff LLC, a company that provides staffing for nonprofits, think tanks and government contractors, and a competition mentor; Dylan Fox of Crowdvance, an online fundraising organization for small organizations that won third place in the 2012 competition; and Andreas Schneider, co-founder of Capital Kambucha, a 2012 finalist whose product – bottles of fermented iced tea – is now available in 20 retail outlets.


Posted by gwsb on October 24, 2012 | Filed under: GWSB News.

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