The field of young entrepreneurs varies each year in the West Virginia Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition, and this year is no different as a record eight state colleges and universities are represented in the group of 2018-19 competition semi-finalists.
A total of 30 semi-finalist teams have moved on to the next stage of the 13th annual competition, 10 in each of three categories. A $10,000 grand prize awaits each winner in the Lifestyle and Innovation, Hospitality and Tourism, and STEM categories. In all, 201 entries from 15 different schools from across the state were judged in the first round.
“This year’s field of semi-finalists represents more colleges and universities than ever before,” said Tara St. Clair, senior program manager at the BrickStreet Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at West Virginia University’s College of Business and Economics, which hosts the statewide competition. “With eight schools making it to the next phase of competition, virtually every region of West Virginia is represented, which is very exciting.”
Semi-finalist colleges and universities include Blue Ridge Community and Technical College (2), Concord University (1), Marshall University (2), Shepherd University (1), the University of Charleston (12), West Liberty University (1), West Virginia State University (1) and West Virginia University (10). The semi-finals will be held on November 16 in Flatwoods, West Virginia, and will see participating teams take part in interviews with panels of judges, reviews of business idea feasibility studies submitted prior to the interview sessions and presentation of their elevator pitches. After completing that phase, five finalists will be chosen from each category.
“I have been involved in the collegiate business plan competition since it went to a statewide format, and I really think this year’s entries are the strongest I have ever seen,” said Mike Green, managing director of Mountain State Capital and former president of the West Virginia State Board of Education. “It’s very gratifying, as someone involved in investment opportunities being created by entrepreneurs in the Appalachian region, to see the quality of entries on the rise.”
The West Virginia Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition offers a platform to college students around the state to help make their business ideas come to life. The competition is open to all full-time higher education students from any academic major in the state of West Virginia. As the competition progresses throughout the academic year, students receive extensive education and assistance in preparing their business plans and creating their businesses.
The West Virginia Collegiate Business Plan Competition is part of a national network that includes Brigham Young University, San Jose State University, Utah Valley University and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Ray Zinn, the longest-serving CEO in Silicon Valley and founder of Micrel Semiconductors, provided $10,000 to the BrickStreet Center in 2017 to make it part of the ZinnStarter program. The program is designed to allow students to create go-to-market plans, finish prototypes and ultimately be evaluated on the performance of their use of funding.
For further information on the competition, go to www.businessplanwv.com.
The BrickStreet Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is part of the WVU Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship Applied (IDEA) Ecosystem, a university-wide network of centers, offices and programs that fosters and supports innovation and entrepreneurship among WVU students, faculty and staff while engaging the statewide community. A visual map of the full ecosystem and detailed information about the resources included can be found here.
For further information on the WVU College of Business and Economics, follow B&E on Twitter at @wvucobe or visit www.business.wvu.edu.