Two WVU teams capture grand prizes at state business plan competition
Revolutionary veterans documentation storage system and fresh fruits and vegetables direct marketing company earn $10,000 first prizes
If you think there’s a shortage of good ideas for West Virginia-based businesses, think again. The two winning teams in the 2010-11 West Virginia Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition are living proof that solid business ideas have a real shot at becoming real businesses in the state.
The winning ideas in the two categories of competition came from teams at West Virginia University this year. CardRecs, developed by a third year law student, and Appleseed’s Farm and Market, proposed by two students from the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, were voted the winners by a panel of judges from across the state and East Coast on Saturday. Each team was awarded first prize of $10,000 and a package including legal, accounting and incubator services valued at more than $6,000. Additionally, the CardRecs team, which won the Lifestyle & Innovation category, was awarded printing services valued at $1,000 for capturing that category.
The CardRecs proposal by law student Grant Bayerle is one that focuses on the safekeeping of important veterans documents.
“CardRecs is a company that will revolutionize how military veterans retain their most valuable and confidential records, their DD-214s (or separation documents),” Bayerle said. “As opposed to merely safekeeping (and often losing) their hard copies that are given to them upon release from duty, military veterans can request a credit card sized, USB-applicable VetRecs Card through the online CardRecs system.
“Their documents will be sent directly from the government facility, scanned and digitally signed/locked, uploaded on an attractive VetRecs Card with AES-encryption and password-protected software. The veteran then can have their certified records on their person at all times when they need it.”
The winning team in the Hospitality & Tourism category is that of senior agri-business student John Elias and junior horticulture student Stephen Redmond. Their business proposal is a fresh fruits and vegetables direct marketing company, but with a twist.
“Appleseed’s Farm and Market is a West Virginia-based company that grows and distributes its own fresh fruits and vegetables through direct marketing outlets that include a storefront location, roadside stands, local farm markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA),” said Elias and Redmond.
“In today’s society people have a desire to reconnect to the agrarian way of life and know where their food is grown and how it came from farm to table. (This) must be met head-on by giving the consumer the opportunity to become a part of the product and allowing them to experience the culture and beauty of the farming environment. Appleseed’s Farm and Market provides this link two ways: by offering a top quality ‘homegrown’ product in several direct market options and again by allowing access to the farm through agritourism and educational programs.”
An initiative of the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics, the Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition has prompted the creation of 15 new West Virginia businesses since the inception of the statewide contest five years ago.
“While this competition takes place in an academic setting, it is not an academic exercise,” said Mindy Walls, director of the WVU Entrepreneurship Center and administrator of the competition. “Our finalists go on to start real businesses. Everyone who enters is a winner because of the education they receive and the networking opportunities they are afforded. There are more than 130 business professionals who volunteer their time throughout the course of the competition, and the teams benefit from the exposure to those people.”
This year’s competition saw a record number of entries at 115 from 10 different colleges and universities across West Virginia — 75 in the Lifestyle & Innovation Category and 40 in the new Hospitality & Tourism category. These entries represented a 17 percent increase over the number of entries last year, which was a record at the time.
For further information on the West Virginia Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition, go to www.be.wvu.edu/bpc.