Thousands of Dollars Awarded to Student-Run Businesses
By Connor Child
With the newly opened Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence, the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business is better prepared than ever before to help student-led businesses get off the ground. Judging by the results of a recent competition, the center should have no problems staying busy.
Dozens of students and groups participated in the most recent Opportunity Quest competition, pitting their new ventures against each other for the chance to win up to $5,000. The competition provides teams with an educational forum to prepare them and aids them in the creation and implementation of their business plans.
The contest came to a close Jan. 26 when the judges selected the top three teams out of ten finalists at an awards banquet. The $5,000 first-place prize went to the creators of a political website called Politicit.com. The $2,000 second-place prize went to Page-Stroud Finance, a “factoring” company, which is a financial intermediary firm that, for a fee, pays a bill in advance and then collects from the payer later. Kilo Relay Series, a venture that designs specialized relay races, won the $1,000 third-place prize. All three ventures were created and are being run by students and alumni from the Huntsman School of Business.
Josh Light, CEO of Politicit.com, said his group’s first-place finish was exciting, but its work is far from done.
“Entrepreneurship is synonymous with hard work,” Josh said. “So while we are thrilled with the results of the competition, we want to use this as a stepping stone to expand the reach of our website.”
The competition began in October 2011, and since then, participants had the chance to attend a series of workshops aimed at refining essential business skills such as marketing and finance. After 24 teams submitted executive summaries, 10 finalists were announced on Dec. 16. The top 10 subsequently presented their final pitches, and the top three were announced at the Final Awards Banquet.
A student talks to Tyler Tolson and Keenan Nuehring about Tolson's business, Denik.
Photo by: Connor Child
One of the businesses that made the top 10 was Denik, started by former USU student body president Tyler Tolson. The business designs and markets specialized notebooks with covers featuring artwork from guest artists. One dollar of every purchase goes to building a school in Mali, Africa, said Chris Reese, a team member for Denik.
“Participating in the competition gave us a lot of ideas, and it helped us stay continually focused on the goals we have set for our business,” Chris said. “We are looking forward to utilizing the skills we picked up along the way to help our business attain continued success.”
Opportunity Quest is directed by students and involves student volunteers, many of them a part of the Entrepreneurship Club. Stuart Richards, vice president of competitions for the club, directed the most recent competition.
“There are some dynamic start-ups right in our midst,” Stuart said. “I hope that this competition and future competitions will ignite the entrepreneurial spirit exemplified by our school’s namesake, Jon M. Huntsman.”