Students participated in the second annual Business Plan Competition Tuesday night, and great ideas were flowing in Fisher 139.
Sponsored by the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the School of Business and Economics, the competition featured future businessmen and women promoting their ideas in front of a panel of judges, who had previously reviewed their written plans.
The five-minute pitches covered a broad range of business ideas, and the winning plan was Books With Purpose by Jodhbir Singh, master’s student in EE, and Aman Bamra, bachelor’s student in CS.
“Books With Purpose would be India’s first nonprofit online bookstore,” Singh explained. “Thirty-five percent of India’s population is illiterate, and we would help address this problem by donating one book to under-supported schools for every five we sell.”
Singh and Bamra would approach India’s middle and upper classes to support their mission and their business, especially targeting rural areas, where illiteracy is more prevalent.
They took home $1,500 in cash and $2,700 worth of local consulting services: logo, accounting and legal services for their winnings. Singh planned on returning to India after graduation to pursue the business.
Two Bows, a company founded by Jessica Tompkins, a junior majoring in management, took second place in the competition and was familiar to the crowd. She won the Elevator Pitch Competition last fall with her business, which creates hunting apparel for women that could also be worn elsewhere.
Targeting “outdoorsy females, ages 12 to 50, in the northern states,” Tompkins has already started producing demos of her clothing to further pitch her idea, including the blouse she was wearing.
“We would eventually like to expand our online e-commerce sales and even donate proceeds to families of breast cancer patients and the Dream Hunt Program for terminally ill children,” she said. Second place garnered her $500, which she said she would reinvest in the company.
Third place and $250 went to Collin Stoner and his company, Selene, which will manufacture electric motor drivers. He has already been working with a company called Medical Minds to promote his device, which could be used to move the beds in CAT scan machines, for example.
“I’ve spent 400 engineering hours on making the prototype,” Stoner said. “And each one would have its own, unique computer chip, making duplication by competitors difficult.”
Other businesses pitched to the judges were retirement planning for lower income and middle-class people who might have fallen on hard times; cloud computing with improved information gathering; and a social network site for environmentally conscious people and organizations.
Bob Mark, professor of practice in the School of Business and Economics, who emceed the event, doled out the cash to the students and announced that there are plans for a major increase in funding next year, in cooperation with Central Michigan University. Mark sees the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship with Central, with expanded entrepreneurial opportunities and other academic relationships.