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Shepherd students excel in competition

By Staff | Nov 11, 2011

Four Shepherd University students are currently in the semi-finals round of the West Virginia Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition. The Shepherd semi-finalists are Haroun Hallack, senior R.B.A. student from Inwood; Beth Montgomery, senior R.B.A. student from Shepherdstown; Krista Youngblood, senior business administration major from Martinsburg; and Matt Richards, senior communications major from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

The statewide competition, hosted by West Virginia University’s Entrepreneurship Center in the College of Business and Economics, is open to all majors. Now in its sixth year, the competition is designed to give students the skills and contacts, as well as the motivation, to create a viable start-up company in West Virginia.

The competition lasts the entire academic year, culminating in April. The competition consists of three rounds, with feedback and instruction given for each, beginning with a written summary of the business idea, which is scored by a panel of judges. The second round consists of three levels, including a feasibility study, a two-minute elevator pitch and a series of interviews with business professionals to discuss the business plan. The top five teams advance to the final round, which includes comprehensive instruction and an oral presentation to a panel of judges.

Two grand prize packages consisting of $10,000 cash, accounting and legal assistance and virtual or physical incubator space are awarded to the top team in each category – lifestyle and innovation and hospitality and tourism.

Hallack said he has had a positive experience so far with the competition.

“The class is a resource to take advantage of as it helps us toward a possible career,” Hallack said in a release.

Hallack’s business plan is an eco-tourism venture.

Montgomery’s business plan is to create a product that assists with comfort and ease bathing solutions of elderly or frail patients who are in home health care or assisted living. Montgomery said that entering the business competition has helped her realize that she can make her venture a reality and she hopes to implement her plan upon graduation.

Youngblood’s plan is centered around wine tours based in Jefferson County, W.Va., that would travel to wineries along Route 9 in Virginia.

Richards said that the competition has opened his eyes to a different side of business. A marketing minor, he said the competition makes his goals seems more achievable. His plan is an online media venture to connect gamers and spectators, called Games Cast TV.

Assistant Professor of Business Administration Caroline Glackin is using the competition as class credit in two of her classes, small business management and entrepreneurship and new venture creation.

“This competition is not just an academic exercise for them. We are excited for the potential to win in both categories this year,” she said.