Tuesday August 29, 2006

One Great Idea, Two Short Minutes

Students, young alumni and local entrepreneurs are invited to compete in the University of Dayton's first Business Plan Competition.

You have two minutes to raise $5,000 to jumpstart your business. What do you say?

The University of Dayton Business Plan Competition is open to UD undergraduate and graduate students as well as alumni who graduated since 2002. Members of the Dayton community also can team with students and enter the competition.

The first test is a two-minute elevator pitch for a start-up business venture presented to a panel of judges on Dec. 2. Five finalists will be selected to write a full-blown business plan, and will compete for $10,000 worth of total prize money. Teams can range from one to five members. There is no entry fee.

"It will be a wonderful scrub opportunity for anyone with a business idea to test it out well in advance of committing any capital to it," said Jay Janney, assistant professor of management and competition coordinator.

The competition will include a series of workshops open to the public, including an elevator pitch primer during which speeches are honed and tested.

"The idea of writing a business plan can be very daunting, and we're going to try to break it down in baby steps for them," he said.

Each of the five finalists will assemble a team to compose the business plan. The teams will be assigned mentors with entrepreneurial experience from the Dayton business community to help them sharpen their plans, which will be judged in March. Janney said he hopes to see cross-school cooperation, such as an engineer with an invention teaming with communication and operations management majors to produce a viable plan.

"This is a way to teach entrepreneurship," said Dean McFarlin, chair of the management and marketing department and the NCR professor of global leadership development. "We're trying to teach students how to differentiate themselves from others and stand out. When you actually have to make an elevator speech in front of an audience and compete for real money, it raises the stakes."

The University of Dayton has been named one of the country's "most entrepreneurial campuses" by The Princeton Review and Forbes.com. In its seventh year, UD's entrepreneurship program has been recognized as the 15th best program in the nation for students wanting to become future entrepreneurs. In addition, UD's entrepreneurship program has been named one of the top 10 entrepreneurship-emphasis programs in the country.

UD's entrepreneurship program started in 1999 with 10 students and will enroll a record 140 undergraduate entrepreneurship majors this fall. MBA students can concentrate in entrepreneurship as well.

Flyer Enterprises, comprised of seven student-run businesses on campus, is now the fourth largest student-run business in the nation, with more than $1.2 million in annual sales.

Contact Jay Janney at 937-229-2975 and Dean McFarlin at 937-229-4928.