The 2013 Business Plan Competition Launches with Success
By Allison McCourt ’13
Fairfield students came together on Saturday, February 2, to take part in the first annual Start-Up Day for the Dolan School of Business’ (DSB) Business Plan Competition (BPC). After the first BPC yielded great success last year, DSB raised hype for the final competition in April with this Start-Up Event.
There were 45 students competing and a total of six mentors to assist the students in their business plans. Mentors consisted of graduate alumni, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists. Dr. Mukesh Sud, assistant professor of management, is expecting anywhere from 250-300 people to be present at the final BPC in April.
To kick off Saturday’s events, students were given thirty seconds to present an initial idea. Once the top ten plans were determined from twenty original ideas, students were able to branch off into teams to formulate a final pitch for their product and nominate mentors. After working together as teams, competitors presented their final two-and-a-half-minute pitch to an audience of students, mentors, and judges.
Dr. Donald E. Gibson, dean of the Dolan School of Business said, “We had no idea how many people would come today so having 45 people and ten viable teams is really exciting for the school.” Some of the final pitches included Sense Fit, a heart rate monitor linked into an article of clothing designed by engineering major Nicole Stark ’13; a reversible hat designed to insulate on one side and cool on the reverse by business major Alexander Boothe ’16; an international music sharing website, House ‘N Stuff, created by engineering major Oliver Dumoulin ’16; and other extremely impressive plans. After hearing the pitches, Dr. Gibson said, “We had terrific ideas that feel like they can all be viable.”
Daniel Leitao ’12, account manager at Conclave Labs, commented on how opportunistic it was for students from the DSB, the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), and the School of Engineering to form teams, combining their talents and skills. Leitao, a member of the entrepreneurship world a mere year after graduating, observed this event as an undergraduate and helped develop the Start-Up day..
Leitao said, “The goals for today were to have an event that was able to kick start the BPC and to encourage collaboration between multiple schools here at Fairfield -- and I definitely think those goals were met. Today we had financial pitches, social entrepreneurship pitches, and products developed with engineers and business students working together on those plans. I think Fairfield is headed in a great direction when it comes to entrepreneurship.”
After the ten final pitches, Leitao, Dr. Gibson, and Carl Sheraga, chair of the management department, collaborated and decided on the top three business plans. Third place was Good To Go, a product presented by international studies major Michael Franco ’13, allowing people to electronically plan activities. Second place was a solar powered case for the iPhone, created by international business major Christopher Mandly ’13 and electrical engineering major Daniel Maloney ’13. The first place prize of $1,000 was awarded to engineering major Diego Mamani '14 and computer science major Max Espinoza ’13, creators of Bluetooth Enabled Power Strip, a customizable application for smartphones.
Mamani said, “This means a lot because it gives us a chance to use what we learn and develop something we really want to do, an opportunity that makes what we’re studying actually happen even before graduating.” Espinoza followed, “Now that we’ve won this competition, we actually have resources available that we wouldn’t originally have, and we have a great group of people here who seem very happy to help us in any way.”
Mentor and Graduate alumni James Dugan ’85, when asked about the day’s events, said, “The kids today presented an awful lot of really credible business-making ideas that they could actually get up and running on their own without any seed capital. The enthusiasm was there and the thought process was very good. There was a lot of logic and they were very pragmatic and very practical.”
To learn more about the Business Plan Competition, enter in as a competitor, become a mentor, or simply stay up-to-date, visit: www.fairfield.edu/businessplan, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.