Winners of the 11th annual Arkansas State University Innovate Business Idea Competition have been announced after 31 students presented full business plans and a 90-second elevator pitch to a panel of judges. Winning students have the option to compete in the Governor’s Cup in spring 2020.
Bret Fuller of Piggott tied for first place in the business plan track with “Engine Alert,” an on-board automotive diagnostics reader that pairs with a mobile application and alerts and instructs drivers when their car isn’t functioning properly. Ty Cornelius of Mount Pleasant, Madison Melton of Jonesboro and Jonathan Martin of Viola pitched the “Triple S: Snappy Sun Shade,” a vehicle windshield sunshade that automatically deploys in case customers forget to put it up.
“We’re so excited by the number of students interested in entrepreneurship and the breadth of their ideas and interests,” said Dr. Hilary Schloemer, assistant professor of management. “We have such a strong tradition of entrepreneurship and small business ownership in Northeast Arkansas, and our students are working hard to carry that forward.”
Third place in the business plan competition was awarded to “AJN Productions.” Andrew Doonan of Bryant, and James (J. Mark) Lewis and Noah Burden, both of Jonesboro, pitched their idea for chemically-infused hammocks and blankets that repel ticks and mosquitoes without using traditionally harmful chemicals or leaving a sticky texture on the skin, allowing customers to sleep under the stars in peace.
In the elevator pitch track, Conner White of Roland won first place with his idea for “RedPoint Climbing & Fitness,” a climbing gym with constantly evolving climbing opportunities to reduce the monotony of exercising at a gym.
Second place and the award for most innovative elevator pitch went to “No Hands Camera Arms,” pitched by Gunner Faulkner of Paragould. The proposed product is a camera arm that allows bowhunters to capture the thrilling moments of their hunt without impeding their ability to bag their chosen prey.
The third-place award was awarded to Michele Gleason of Diamond Bar, Calif., for her pitch of “Missy’s Café.” As a non-traditional student with years of experience managing in the food service industry, Gleason pitched an idea for a trendy, health-oriented café with coffee, tea and dessert offerings in a comfortable and dog-friendly atmosphere.
The competition was sponsored by the Arkansas Economic Acceleration Foundation, a unit of Arkansas Capital Group, a privately held group that provides capital investment to businesses.
The business plan competition was started by Dr. Nareatha Studdard, a former professor in management and marketing, as a business plan competition in 2008. These events, part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, a worldwide initiative, awarded a total of $1,500 this year in cash prizes.
To-date, these competitions have distributed over $25,000 in prizes to students and have helped teams prepare for the Governor’s Cup, at which teams from A-State have gone on to win more than $75,000.