A pair of West Virginia University students who came up with a way to identify and file blueprints and another who wants to explore decorative and other forms of concrete won the top prizes at the WVU Entrepreneurship Center’s Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition April 9-10 in Morgantown.
Jillian Cobb and Chade Lowe, of Shepherdstown, won in the innovation category for their proposed business idea, Plandoms. The idea is to give companies working with blueprints the ability to categorize, label and store their plans quickly and effectively — making organization, identification and access to plans simpler.
Logan Hartle, a senior industrial engineering major from Martinsburg, W.Va., won the lifestyle category for DecoKrete, a niche decorative concrete company that specializes in many forms of concrete, including stamped, stenciled and vertical concrete, resurfacing, counter tops and landscape curbing.
Each team won $10,000 and also receives a variety of free professional business services, which they will use to build small businesses within the state. Winners receive space to run their businesses from the WVU Incubator, legal services from Spilman, Thomas & Battle and accounting services from Dixon Hughes.
“Year in and year out, I’m amazed by the young talent and innovative ideas we have around the state and this year was no exception,” said Mindy Walls, WVU’s Entrepreneurship Center director. “This competition truly brings out the best in West Virginia’s aspiring business leaders. It gives college students from around the state a great opportunity to get real world experience in business and entrepreneurship at a young age.”
The competition, which began as a WVU event but went statewide in 2006, featured 98 students from seven West Virginia institutions of higher education. It began in August, when college students from around the state submitted formal business proposals. Over the course of the school year, the teams honed their plans and presented them during three rounds of competition to a panel of business leaders from around the country. The 10 finalist teams were from WVU, University of Charleston, Marshall University and Glenville State College. This past weekend, five teams in both innovation and lifestyle categories presented their plans to the panel, who picked the winners in each category.
The success of the competition isn’t limited to the winners, Walls said. Prior to this year, 30 teams have competed as finalists in the competition; 13 of those teams have gone on to start businesses in West Virginia based on ideas presented in the Business Plan Competition.
“We do this for the state and the students — it’s a win-win for everyone involved,” Walls said. “Our hope is that there will be 10 more businesses in West Virginia as a result of this year’s competition.”