Robert J. Trulaske Sr., College of Business, University of Missouri

Entrepreneurship Competition Encourages Students to Develop Small Businesses

 Six student teams competed on November 13 for a share of $7,000 in prizes in the final round of the annual MU New Venture Idea Competition sponsored by the Flegel Academy for Aspiring Entrepreneurs. The contest recognizes outstanding examples of student entrepreneurship and provides a means for student ideas to become business realities.

Each of three teams in two divisions – undergraduate and graduate – earned between $500 and $2,000 to help start business ventures. The ideas were wide-ranging, from tailgate seats for cargo beds of pickup trucks to ultraviolet-light grocery-cart sanitizers.

The six finalists were selected from a pool of more than 40 applications. The finalists made presentation to a panel of judges, who then awarded first, second, and third places in each division. The results of the competition were:

Graduate division

1. Randy Pettus (RecWatch – Online recreation sports search and reservations)
2. Trent Mumm (UVCarts – Ultraviolet light shopping cart sanitizers)
3. David Randolph (TailGator – Padded seats for truck tailgates)

Undergraduate division

1. John Bennett and CJ Zeilenga (Summer break storage for college students)
2. Rachael Hartley and Regan Hartley (Long-distance care packages for ill students)
3. Keegan Burkett and Zach Hockett (CapturetheCity – Online store of amateur photographers' work)

MBA student Randy Pettus presented RecWatch, a web-based recreation portal that will allow users to discover new trails and parks, reserve courts and fields, and invite friends to upcoming activities. His presentation earned his venture a first-place prize of $2,000.

Pettus says winning the competition, along with the prize money, is a stimulus for trying to commercialize his idea. "To hear the judges congratulate me and tell me that I'm on to something big was a good motivation to really pursue the idea," Pettus said.

Jay Alexander, vice president of commercial banking at Commerce Bank, spent the morning as one of contest judges. He says it is imperative that students make an effort to dedicate themselves to their ideas. "I think it's important for these students to realize they're not that far from reality on some of the concepts," Alexander said. "Even the ones who didn't finish first in the competition could persevere and push forward with these concepts."

The judges for the competition were Alexander; Brad Eiffert, owner of Boone County Lumber Co.; Mark Hassemer, executive director of Alternative Community Training, Inc.; and Jeff Brandt, executive director of Maritz Loyalty Marketing.