CCEI Holds Annual University-Wide Business Plan CompetitionStorrs, CT (6/28/2012)
For the third year in a row, the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CCEI) at the University of Connecticut School of Business held its annual business plan competition. The CCEI, led by Executive Director Christopher Levesque '87, is an academic center within the School of Business that aims to broaden the entrepreneurial opportunities both within UConn, and the greater Connecticut entrepreneurial community at large.
"Over the last couple of years, the CCEI Business Plan Competition has blossomed into a wonderful program on many levels. Beyond the prize money -- which is substantial -- it is energizing hundreds of UConn student entrepreneurs to invent and create new products and services. The program gives students a platform to launch substantial businesses, creating career paths for themselves and jobs for the State of Connecticut,” notes Eric Knight ’82, President of Remarkable Technologies and Manager of the UConn Springboard program, who served as a competition judge.
The competition is university-wide – open to students of all levels, majors, and campuses, and there are no restrictions when it comes to the subject of the plan idea - any and all unique business ideas or innovations were considered. This competition is part of a broader effort by the University to grow the entrepreneurial community and spirit, and this competition attracted talented student teams from diverse backgrounds and experience, but all with a common motivation and drive.
Many of the teams were comprised of interdisciplinary students, which helps to bring a wide array of perspectives and ideas to any project. Part of the promise of this competition was that all submitted plans would be reviewed by experienced entrepreneurs, investors and UConn faculty. Additionally, the CCEI hosted multiple workshops dedicated to helping teams improve and polish their plans to help maximize their prospects for success. At the workshops, the competitor teams were given general guidance on what makes a successful business plan and were then given one-on-one time to work with experienced professional mentors.
Over 130 teams submitted their intent-to-compete, 49 teams submitted official competition entries, and 13 finalists presented their plans to a panel of judges. The finalist presentations were held April 25th, 2012 at the School of Business. The judges for this competition were: Christopher Levesque '87, Director of CCEI; Eric Knight ‘82, President of Remarkable Technologies and Manager of the UConn Springboard program; Bruce Carlson, President of the IP Factory; Danny Briere, CEO of TeleChoice; Mary Anne Rooke, President of the Angel Investor Forum; Joe Wehr, President of DBMI; and Nat Brinn, Principal at Vital Financial, LLC.
Among the finalists, PartsTech, a team comprised JD/MBA student Gregory Kirber ’13 and MBA student Alexander VanderEls ’12, presented the most well-developed business plan, receiving the competition grand prize of $25,000. Second prize of $15,000 went to Buses2 (team members Adam Boyajian ’12 and Michael Parelli ‘12), and the third place prize of $10,000 went to Sharelogical (Max Lekhtman ‘11 , Daniel Hanley ‘12, Jay Bahgat ‘14 and Mike Lovino ‘12).
Competition plan winner Greg Kirber noted how the resources surrounding this competition contributed to his team’s success: “The development processes and mentor advising helped strengthen our plan and provided new avenues for exploration.” He also commented on the sense of fellowship between competition participants, “While a competition by nature, this event has certainly led to lasting collaboration between teams as well as with mentors.”
“The popularity of this year's competition is a perfect representation of the energy up in Storrs. There's an incredible amount of students starting businesses and chasing their dreams, and now there are resources like the CCEI competition so students have a channel through which they can pursue their opportunities,” notes Adam Boyajian. “We just graduated, and we can look back to four years ago when there was no place for kids like us to go with ideas, and certainly no mentors or money to help us make it happen. The pace at which things are happening is incredible, and there is without a doubt some big things coming out of UConn around the corner."
Chris Levesque is thrilled with the rapidly expanding level of entrepreneurial energy by the students at UConn. “The creativity, novelty and sophistication of the ideas presented has increased each year and the CCEI Business Plan Competition, taken in conjunction with entrepreneurship courses, Startup Weekend Storrs, Innovation Quest, and other programs is helping to put UConn squarely on the map in terms of student entrepreneurship.”
This competition was an extremely effective and successful way to tap into the burgeoning entrepreneurial spirit here at the University and throughout the State. With the success of the 2012 CCEI Business Plan Competition, the organizers are brainstorming ways to grow the competition even larger next year, perhaps adding a competition track for faculty/staff. In the meantime, the CCEI is extending an invitation to all teams who submitted a letter of intent to compete in the competition to continue discussions and guide them to take advantage of resources The CCEI can bring to bear.
"Our ultimate intent at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is to identify, mentor and help develop new businesses here in Connecticut; PartsTech, along with Buses2, Sharelogical and the other finalists, represent terrific examples of such promising firms," stated Christopher Levesque.
"The consistent and sheer volume of ideas that emanate from the student population year over year at UConn is amazing and inspiring," says Danny Briere. "This is exactly the type of innovation that's necessary to power our way towards more jobs and companies in the state."
For more information about CCEI, please visit http://ccei.business.uconn.edu.
Christopher Levesque, Executive Director, Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation (CCEI)
Marie LeBlanc, Manager of Marketing and Publicity, UConn School of Business
School of Business Pressroom
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