Thursday April 2, 2009

Brilliant Business Plans

The winning idea of the School of Business Administration's 2009 Business Plan Competition would piggyback ads on course papers, tapping into a potential market of 18 million students.

A new student-generated business idea to provide free printing and copying of class materials to college students took home first prize in the 2009 University of Dayton Business Plan Competition. 

Alexander Göbel, an MBA student from Augsburg, Germany, won $15,000 for Free Copying 101. Under his plan, students would get free copies, while advertisers pay printing costs in exchange for ads on the back of each paper. The project was mentored by Norm Orlowski, president of Just Business! Inc.

"With more than 4,000 universities in the U.S., there are nearly 18 million potential customers," said Dean McFarlin, chair of the management and marketing department and the NCR Professor of Global Leadership Development. "This business has great potential to tap this market. It's a very clever idea that can be executed very quickly, with positive cash flow from day one."

Business plans from five finalist teams were judged on whether they were feasible, profitable and innovative products worthy of going to market.

Other winners announced at the School of Business Administration's annual Entrepreneurship Banquet were:

  • Second place ($10,000): KDVS Innovative Concepts — Wesley Hartig, Matthew Lakes and Curt Reigelsperger; mentor, Greg Popham, business development manager for Motorola and University of Dayton entrepreneurship alumni. KDVS created an innovative software-driven LED grow light system that dramatically shortens growing times at a fraction of the cost of traditional lighting systems. The KDVS lighting system can be tailored to provide optimal lighting for cultivating specific crop plants or flowers.
  • Third place ($5,000): Patron Industries Safety Cone — by Nick Fahringer, Maroun Nammour, Nathan Ohlinger and Phil Yust; mentor, Jack Lohbeck, director of business consulting, Battelle & Battelle. Many auto accidents are caused because drivers fail to recognize they are in a construction zone until it's too late. The Patron Safety Cone is a 42-inch lightweight retractable cone that uses an LED system for illumination. It can be used on highways and in construction zones and a variety of other applications.
  • Fourth place ($1,500): Sample Scan — Alex Carney, Marty Kelchner, Michael Peters, Nick Kloppenborg and David Weber; mentor, Al Wofford, president and CEO of CDO Technologies. Sample Scan creates a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tagging system that can be read by a handheld locator for samples in cryogenic storage tanks. It solves the problem of opening a tank to hunt for a sample, which risks ruining hundreds of other samples. Sample Scan has applications in the medical field, agriculture and even zoos that work with endangered species.
  • Fifth place ($1,500): Musky Fever —  James Schroeder and David Whitney; mentor, Scott Ruprecht, president of Sportfishing Worldwide. Musky Fever has created a safety cradle fishing net that attaches to the side of a fishing boat. Its lifting mechanism allows a solo fisherman to safely land large fish, such as a 40 lb. musky. Musky Fever's product works for both fresh- and salt-water sport fishing, a potential market of millions of people around the world.

McFarlin said while the focus of the competition is business, there is strong participation from other areas of the University, with most of the entries coming from students outside of the business school.

"We saw good examples of collaboration, especially with engineering students," McFarlin said. "And we are pleased with the number of entries that involved social entrepreneurship, which help communities tackle some of their biggest problems."

The University of Dayton's School of Business Administration launched the annual competition in 2006 to help teach entrepreneurship and give students an advantage in the job market, McFarlin said. The competition is open to any University of Dayton student or graduate; outside entrepreneurs may enter if a University of Dayton student or graduate is on the team.

McFarlin said 57 teams entered the competition this year and total prize money grew to exceed $35,000. Six of the projects, including three finalists, were partnerships between entrepreneurship students and the School of Engineering.

The University of Dayton is nationally recognized for developing student entrepreneurs. Its entrepreneurship program has been rated among the top five undergraduate programs in the U.S. by Entrepreneur magazine and The Princeton Review since 2006. Students in the program become entrepreneurs with many opportunities to learn by running actual businesses.

Dean McFarlin at 937-229-4928 or mcfarlin@udayton.edu