By Wendy Rupper
Six high school students earned scholarships from Utah Valley State College last week at the first ever Entrepreneurship Camp for presenting the best business plan.
Kerstin Beach, April Crowder, Riley Loader, Larry Macfarlane, William Simmons and Travis Sperry created an idea for a house cleaning business called Top Notch that stressed the high quality of their service.
At the end of the five-day camp, Top Notch competed against 22 other students for a semester”s tuition scholarship at UVSC by presenting their business plan to a panel of five to seven community judges.
Janice Gygi, associate dean of the UVSC School of Business, presented the scholarship to each of the six members on the winning team.
“Each team member focused on their individual strengths,” she said. “They came together to form an excellent presentation.”
The judges evaluated the quality of the different plans by looking at the groups” written proposals, 10-minute oral presentations and trade show booths with market analysis posters. The judges then decided which plan was the most feasible and the most innovative.
“Top Notch” especially impressed them because they realistically decided to start small, planning to advertise by word of mouth and by going door to door. In fact, the plan was so feasible, two of the team members plan to go forward with their idea and start the business this summer.
“I really learned a lot by creating my own business,” said Riley Loader of the Top Notch business team. “The business world is a great area to get into, but you need to know how it works.”
Mentored by entrepreneurs of local businesses, the students gained the skills of sales, marketing, goal setting, negotiation and meaningful communication. The camp trained the students through hands-on activities and presentations by successful business. Because these business plans were created to work in the business world, they were formed the same way real world entrepreneurs start out.
“We had the students follow an Opportunity Identification Model,” said Peter Robinson, professor of entrepreneurship at UVSC. “We started out talking about creativity and idea generation, then how to take those ideas and turn them into business ideas and next into business concepts, and finally documenting them in a business plan.”
These business plans had four parts. First, they had to describe in detail their product or service, stressing what value it would be to the consumer. Second, they had to research the market and describe how their product would be unique and innovative. Next, they had to decide a human resource component. Finally, the project teams worked out the technical side, such as financial projections over 12 months in costs and profits.
“It was a very successful week,” said Cory Holley of the Small Business Development Center, the group that hosted the event. “We plan to make it an annual event.”