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19 April 2009

Participants, winners honored in Business Plan Competition luncheon

The University of Miami’s School of Business Administration awarded students $36, 000 in this year’s Annual Business Plan Competition. A luncheon was held in honor of the contestants.

“We want to recognize and celebrate the outstanding entrepreneurial accomplishments of our students and programs,” business school dean Barbara Kahn said at the event.

Established in 2003, the Entrepreneurship Competition is an annual contest open to all University of Miami students. Teams prepare business plans and pitch their concepts to a panel of successful entrepreneurs, competing for more than $25,000 in prize money that should help to start their business initiative.

The competition encourages entrepreneurship to all students and recognizes that potential ly successful business ideas can come from not only business majors, but all disciplines, and by an individual person or multiple member teams. The competition begins each fall when applicants are invited to submit their business ideas. Following a review of all entries, 20 teams are selected to submit detailed business plans. In the spring, the teams deliver presentations before the judges who will select the winners and award $25,000 in prize money.

Each individual or team is required to submit a three to five page initial concept synopsis for the 2008 – 2009 Entrepreneurship Competition. There are two entry categories in the competition: the Small Business category and the High-Potential Ventures category. These plans can be of existing companies or of new company ideas.

The 1st place winners of the undergraduate level High Potential Ventures category were Matt Heckert and Stew Berkeley. The graduate level 1st place winner was Brian Rechtman and John Stieglitz came in at second.

“Being able to work with a teammate, made it a really good experience, and then having someone to win with was really exciting,” said Heckert.

Heckert and Berkeley, both triples majors in the School of Business, created Surveyosaurus. Surveyosaurus delivers invaluable marketing research and consumer insights to its clients across the advertising, research, and corporate worlds. Taking the form of an application on Facebook’s third party developer platform, Surveyosaurus will gain instant exposure to the over 45 million active American users.

“I’ve always been involved in philanthropic endeavors, and wanted to start a social company to further nonprofit efforts,” said Rechtman, 25, a graduate of the University of Miami’s MBA program.

Rechtman received a $6,000 check for his plan for Blue Tree Market Corp. Blue Tree Marketing specializes in online auction fundraising for nonprofit organizations and schools nationwide. Their online auctions create opportunities to increase revenue and awareness by reaching out to new donors and opening fundraisers up to wider audiences.

“I learned how improve my business plan, create a proper demonstration for investors to increase the busi ness and take it to the next level” said Rechtman.

StStieglitz created Blue Ocean Aquaculture, which is a business focused on the production and shipment of sustainably cultured juvenile yellowfin tuna for the billion dollar global offshore aquaculture industry and the capture based tuna aquaculture (CBTA) tuna ranching industry.

Dane Osborn and Jason Eisner of Refur Madness won 1st Place for the Undergraduate Level Small Business competition. Refur Madness buys quality used furniture for a low price, restores the furniture to the best quality possible and then sells it for profit.

Brent Martin of Elemental Stereo came in second place. Elemental Stereo manufactures and sells stereosystems for golf carts.

Tyler Gales of Pocket Polls was awarded the Paul K. Sugrue Entrepreneurial Spirit Award for his business plan. Pocket Poll is a direct marketing research company that specializes in the administration of surveys via mobile multimedia devices, such as the Apple iPhone.

This award is named after the School’s former Dean who launched the School’s Entrepreneurship Competition. This award is presented to the student who demonstrates the highest spirit of entrepreneurship.

Isabel Coronado of EZ Care Delivery LLC won the Cynthia Cohen Entrepreneurial Woman of the Year Award. EZ Care Delivery LLC provides an innovative personalized service that assists patients with specialized needs living in nursing homes.

Cohen is a nationally recognized retail industry consultant and founder and president of Strategic Mindshare. She has been a mentor and role model for women business students at UM for many years, and on her behalf, this award was presented.

This year, 74 entries were submitted; 28 went on to the second stage to be formalized into detailed business plans. Eventually, 18 finalists were selected to present their ideas on April 16 to a panel of judges that included business executives, entrepreneurs and venture investors. The winners were announced at an awards luncheon April 17.

Past winners in the Entrepreneurship Competition have gone on to build their ventures into successful businesses.