Friday September 4, 2009

Building a New Business

It's a great time to start a business, and the $50,000 Business Plan Competition is a great way for aspiring entrepreneurs to get started.

In a time of economic adversity, there's great opportunity for entrepreneurs.

And there's help – and maybe some money – for aspiring entrepreneurs in the University of Dayton's $50,000 Business Plan Competition.

"This is absolutely the best time to start a business," said Dean McFarlin, chair of the management and marketing department and the NCR Professor of Global Leadership Development. "It's a matter of recognizing the opportunities. People are searching for employment, trying to be energy efficient and trying to reduce costs in ways that haven't been done before. There's opportunity there."

McFarlin said the Business Plan Competition is there to help local entrepreneurs with resources, support and a top prize of $20,000.

Anyone in the Dayton region can enter and be teamed with a University of Dayton student or graduate.

The first step is to attend the informational meeting 3:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11, in Miriam Hall on the University of Dayton campus. Online applications open Sept. 14 and close Nov. 11. There is no cost to enter and every entry receives a free download of the Palo Alto Business Plan software.

"Our goals are to provide our students with real-world experience in business planning, and at the same time, give local entrepreneurs help with start-up ideas," McFarlin said. "It's a wonderful opportunity for anyone with a business idea to test it before committing any capital to it."

The entries must be original work, involve a start-up company and mesh with the University of Dayton's values. The competition especially welcomes social entrepreneurship entries that tackle social problems in communities here or abroad.

Prize money for the competition, now in its fourth year, continues to grow, as does interest in the competition. The competition winner will take home $20,000, second-place $10,000, third-place $5,000, and the fourth- and fifth-place winners $3,000 each. Teams can win additional money, between $1,500 and $250 in the elevator pitch portion.

All teams will present elevator pitches Nov. 21. They will have one minute to convince judges they have a feasible, profitable, innovative product worthy of going to market. The top five elevator pitch winners will be assigned mentors and develop complete business plans, he said.

Final presentations will be held in the spring; winners are announced at the School of Business Administration's entrepreneurship program banquet.

"The region's economy has been changing and becoming more technology-oriented for three decades," McFarlin said. "It's a highly educated community with lots of expertise in nanotechnology, information technology and remote sensors. Some of the best people in the nation with great ideas live right here."

The University of Dayton is recognized nationally for its innovative programs for student entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurship program has been ranked fourth in the nation by The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine. 

All sophomore entrepreneurship majors are given $5,000 loans from the Crotty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership to start their own businesses. Students can learn about angel investing through the new $1 million Flyer Angels undergraduate investment program. 

Flyer Enterprises, composed of seven student-run businesses on campus, is the fourth largest student-run operation in the nation, with more than $1.4 million in annual sales.

Jay Janney at janney@udayton.edu or 937-229-2975 or Dean McFarlin at mcfarlin@udayton.edu or 937-229-4928.