Good business at Rowan U. could net competitors five grand
It will be all business when Rowan University students compete in the finals of the University's first Business Plan Competition on Saturday, April 21, at 10 a.m. in the Eynon Student Center ballroom.
At stake? The affirmation that the budding entrepreneurs have a business plan that just may fly and three prizes topping at $5,000.
Sponsored by the Rohrer College of Business, the event is being coordinated by business professors Kimble Byrd and Linda Ross, both of the Management/MIS Department, and student competition leaders and entrepreneurship students Laura Curran, a senior from Brick, and Stephen Gill, a junior from Manahawkin.
The contest has three primary objectives: to generate innovative and visionary thinking, to educate students in the process of creating and evaluating new business ventures and to prepare students for opportunities in entrepreneurship sometime during their careers.
The competition started about three months ago, when 20 students first indicated their intent to compete. Of those 20, 12 submitted feasibility plans. Judges from on and off campus selected six of those proposals — from University students in the colleges of Business, Engineering, Liberal Arts & Sciences and Communication — as finalists.
While Byrd would not divulge the details of the proposals, he did note that they are for products, services and technology.
On the day of the final competition, each student will make a 15-minute presentation to judges, followed by a question-and-answer session. Judges are Henry Acchione, vice president for development at Schoor DePalma Engineering; Tom Drury, CEO of the South Jersey Technology Park at Rowan University; Peter Jamieson, Rowan entrepreneur in residence; David Lawyer, of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and a Rowan alumnus; William Major, vice president for commercial lending at Wilmington Trust; and John Piccone, publisher of Curious Parents magazine.
The judges will be asked to evaluate the plans based upon quality of the idea, value proposition, communication, potential opportunity and the presenters' overall knowledge of the entrepreneurial management process.
The $5,000 first, $2,500 second and $1,000 third prizes are being funded by the Rohrer Gift, $10 million donated in 2005 by The William G. Rohrer Charitable Foundation to the Rowan University Foundation for the College of Business to enhance the academic strength of the entrepreneurial curriculum in all disciplines in the College. The prize money is to be used to help seed or operationalize the winners' businesses.
The Business Plan Competition will assess the competitors' education in a very tangible — and real-word — way.
"The idea is to really allow the students to apply the theoretical knowledge that they've gained in entrepreneurship classes and in other areas in a setting where they are going to be judged by seasoned professionals," Byrd said. "It's a learning experience for students in creating and evaluating news business ventures."
Byrd, who also is involved in angel networks that provide funding for start-up businesses, believes the business plans have real potential. He said, "I think that they probably all will see the light of day in some form. I think there are one or two that will have some significant impact in terms of being marketed, in terms of being expanded."