Graves Business Plan Competition Makes Awards to Seven Student Startups

Seven University of Tennessee, Knoxville, student startups were recently awarded cash prizes in the Graves Business Plan Competition. The Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in UT’s Haslam College of Business sponsored the 10th annual entrepreneurial contest.

Sophomores Kelsey Duncan and Ryan Cunningham took top prizes of $5,000 each in the high growth business and lifestyle business categories. Second and third place winners in both categories were awarded $3,000 and $2,000 respectively.

Duncan, a marketing major from Nashville, Tennessee, placed first in the high growth

Kelsey Duncan, The Sorority Guide

category with The Sorority Guide. The values-based analytical tool uses a cellphone application to guide potential new sorority members through the recruitment process. The application eases the process by providing users with information about each sorority, facts about recruitment events and journaling options for users to privately record their experiences. Duncan is in contact with several SEC schools, pursuing possible contracts for her new app.

“The competition not only allowed me to perfect my business pitch, but it also allowed me to sit down and figure out the financial side of my company and what I need to move forward,” Duncan says. “I am very grateful for the experience and opportunity that UT has given me to advance my company.”

Ryan Cunningham, Campus Car

Cunningham, a supply chain management major from Collierville, Tennessee, was awarded the top prize in the lifestyle business category with Campus Car, a flat-rate ride-sharing startup for the UT campus area. The company hires local students as independent contractors to provide low-cost transportation to and from campus in downtown Knoxville, Fort Sanders and the campus area. The company plans to launch in August.

“The Graves Business Plan Competition helped me by allowing me to pitch my idea in front of judges and university representatives who gave critiques that assisted in shaping the future of my business,” Cunningham says. “The requirements of the pitches and prep work necessary to make a good presentation have made my business plan even more solid and will help me to achieve the goals I have planned.”

Anna Amagliani, Brennan Galbraith, Caroline Cate and Caroline Conley of Wahie Women

Second place in the high growth category went to the Wahie Women team, composed of Brennan Galbraith, a junior in marketing from Brentwood, Tennessee; Caroline Conley, a junior in economics from Franklin, Tennessee; Anna Amagliani, a junior in supply chain management from Memphis, Tennessee; and Caroline Cate, a junior in industrial engineering from Brentwood, Tennessee.

Wahie Women is a food delivery service customized to meet the nutritional needs of women. The company uses a cellphone-based application to track users’ menstrual cycles and creates meals designed to replace the nutrients naturally depleted during a woman’s cycle.

Baker Donahue, In With the Old

In With the Old, a social-media-based clothing retail service, took home second place in the lifestyle category. The company was founded by Baker Donahue, a junior in communication studies from Franklin, Tennessee. In With the Old uses online social auctions to sell repurposed vintage college apparel. The company began at UT and now includes four additional college campuses

Tied for third place in the high growth category were Simple Mow and Grassroots Co-Op.

Treavor Johnson, Simple Mow

Simple Mow delivers an efficient hands-free mowing experience. Created by Treavor Johnson, a senior in mechanical engineering from Englewood, Tennessee, Simple Mow uses a combination of satellite navigation and a customized plot route to eliminate the need to perform the physical labor of mowing. Johnson has plans to finalize a prototype this summer.

Barrett Darlington, Grassroots Co-Op

Grassroots Co-Op, created by Barrett Darlington, a junior in mechanical engineering from Knoxville, seeks to simplify the internship hunting process for UT students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. The company uses web and cellphone application-based services to match students with local businesses seeking interns.

Mason Timken, Just Tap It

Just Tap It, created by Mason Timken, a senior in mechanical engineering from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, was awarded third place in lifestyle. Just Tap It is a self-serve bar tap that aims to change the way consumers order beer. The mobile unit attaches to a keg and allows consumers to purchase and pour directly at the tap.

The Graves Business Plan Competition is held every spring. It is open to UT undergraduate students from any field of study. An outside panel of judges from the business community judges entries and selects the winners. Since the competition’s inception in 2008, it has awarded $192,000 to student startups. Sixty-one startup ideas have been funded, 46 percent of which are still in business or have pivoted to a new business.

Application Period Open for 2017 Graves Business Plan Competition

graves17_facebook

The application period for the 10th annual Graves Business Plan Competition at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will open Feb. 27. The competition, sponsored by the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in UT’s Haslam College of Business, awards cash prizes to promising undergraduate student startup businesses or business ideas.

The Graves Business Plan Competition is open to any undergraduate student currently enrolled at UT Knoxville or the UT Institute of Agriculture. First, second and third prizes of $5,000, $3,000 and $2,000 are awarded in two business categories, growth and lifestyle. All student-owned companies, whether legally formed or in the planning stages, are eligible to compete.

Tom Graves, director of operations, Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation

Tom Graves, director of operations, Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation

To apply, students must submit a concept statement to the Anderson Center by midnight Friday, March 10. Teams that advance to the presentation round will pitch to a panel of local business professionals Friday, March 31.

Formerly the Undergraduate Business Plan Competition, the contest was renamed to honor Tom Graves, Anderson Center director of operations and director of the annual competition. The change was made last April at the request of anonymous donors who gave $1 million to endow the competition.

“We are extremely fortunate to have donors whose generosity allows our aspiring student entrepreneurs to engage in true experiential learning and be provided with the opportunity to win funding that will allow them to move their ideas or early stage ventures forward,” said Graves.

Since 2008, the competition has awarded $170,000 to 50 student startups.

Ice Cream Pop-Up Shop Churning Success for UT Grad

CruzeFarm_slide

For UT alumna Colleen Cruze Bhatti, a combination of timing, connections, and hard work brought her to the next step in her growing dairy business, Cruze Farm Girl. This summer, Bhatti opened her first storefront, the Cruze Farm Milk Bar, in downtown Knoxville.

She credits UT’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation for supporting her entrepreneurial dreams.

“The opportunity to open a storefront came up, and the timing was right,” Bhatti says. “It’s been interesting to see how many people we have been able to reach.”

In this case, “interesting” means twenty thousand scoops of farm-fresh ice cream sold during the shop’s first three weeks.

The Union Avenue shop mixes the old-fashioned charm of an ice cream parlor with modern flavors like lavender honey ice cream as well as the chili dog, a hot dog topped with chili, cheese, mustard, and onions. The top-selling ice cream, in flavors like birthday cake and cookies ’n’ cream, is churned overnight at Cruze Farm. New flavors rotate daily.

“We’re selling everything we can produce right now,” says Bhatti. “We’re in a good spot.” She attributes the success to time spent scooping and selling ice cream, hot dogs, and biscuits from the Milk Bar food truck at the Market Square Farmer’s Market in Knoxville.

“We’ve spent the last five years building connections with people at the market,” she says. “People want to know where their food comes from, and I think they enjoy talking to the person who prepares the food they’re eating.”

This connection between the business and its customers is key for Bhatti. While she now employs twenty full- and part-time “farm girls” who work in the shop and on the dairy farm, customers regularly find Bhatti at the shop scooping ice cream, greeting customers, and caring for the business she has worked hard to build.

CruzeFarmShop5

That hard work began while Bhatti was an agriculture science major at UT. She dreamed of expanding her parents’ dairy business and pushed that plan forward when she entered the Graves Undergraduate Business Competition hosted by the Anderson Center. She was awarded the $5,000 first prize in the lifestyle business category for her plan to bring ice cream to Cruze Farm.

“Winning the competition gave my dad confidence in me to keep the dairy business going,” she says. “I think when he saw that the Anderson Center had confidence in me, it gave him confidence too. After that, he was ready for me to move forward.”

The $5,000 prize bought pint containers, and Bhatti spent the summer churning ice cream to fill them.

“I worked so hard the first summer after graduation. I was still proving myself,” says Bhatti. She expanded Cruze Farm’s accounts, selling and delivering milk in Chattanooga and, eventually, Nashville. By the end of that summer, Cruze Farm was bottling all of its own milk. Today, it is the only dairy farm in Knoxville with its own cows and milk plant.

Those real-life lessons of hard work and perseverance are something she strives to share with future entrepreneurs at UT through the Anderson Center.

“We make mistakes, wipe away tears, and try again,” Bhatti says. “Building a business can be emotional. UT has been a great help to me. Talking to students really brings it full circle.”

Part of that circle is Jennifer Edwards, a sophomore majoring in accounting in UT’s Haslam College of Business. Edwards puts her accounting education to work each evening when she plans the quantities and flavors to churn for sale the following day at the shop.

“Jennifer loves to indulge her creative side by inventing new flavors. Her business side always figures out the best plan to execute her fantasy flavors in an efficient way,” Bhatti says proudly.

DSC_1005

While the pop-up shop will stay open only through September 4, Bhatti’s plans for her business are anything but limited. She’s utilizing her location to build relationships with her summer neighbors, including a hot dog collaboration with award-winning chef Joseph Lenn from the soon-to-open restaurant J.C. Holdway and an ice cream story time with Union Avenue Books.

She also is planning for the future—one she hopes includes another storefront. While she is not ruling out a year-round shop, she says the summer pop-up shop has been a great fit for Cruze Farm Girl.

In the fall, Bhatti plans to bring back more flavored milks, including chai milk, and to continue serving ice cream from the Milk Bar truck at the Market Square Farmers Market.

The Milk Bar is located at 513 Union Avenue and is open 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Friday, 2:00 to 10:00 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 7:00 p.m. Sunday.

To learn more about the Anderson Center’s upcoming business plan competitions, visit andersoncei.utk.edu.

Seven Student Startups Awarded in Graves Undergraduate Business Plan Competition

UBPC-Slide-2016

Seven student startups were awarded cash prizes in the ninth annual University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Graves Undergraduate Business Plan Competition last week.

The students competed through three rounds of judging for first, second and third place in two different categories—high growth businesses and lifestyle businesses.

First-place winners won $5,000, second-place winners received $3,000 and third-place winners won $2,000. This year there was a tie for third in the high growth category, so the two teams each received $1,000. In total, $20,000 of donated prize money was awarded to the seven winning teams through the competition sponsored by the UT Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

David Herberich, a senior in industrial engineering, and Jesse McCrary, a sophomore in construction engineering, took first place in the high growth category with ImmersaCad. ImmersaCad is a system for immersive visualization of three-dimensional Computer Aided Designs (CAD) that allows the professional designer and their customers to experience and navigate a CAD model in virtual reality.

Second place went to the Amerus Enterprises, LLC team comprised of

Dimitriy Petrov a junior in mechanical engineering with a minor in entrepreneurship, and Zach Issacs, a junior in business. Amerus Enterprises has developed the Rush Brush, a patented toothbrush with built in flosser that’s designed for use on the go. Its unique design eliminates the need to apply toothpaste or carry floss and the product is biodegradable.

Tied for third place were SilkOps and Gifted Analytics. SilkOps is a software-as-a-service company co-founded by Taylor Adkins, a senior in business analytics, and Thomas West, a senior currently enrolled at Virginia Tech. SilkOps is a fully functional order management system that caters to custom printing companies, enabling users to input orders, manage production and generate invoices. Several printing shops are already using SilkOps.

Gifted Analytics, thought up by Will Lifferth, a sophomore in Computer Science, is a company using powerful machine learning to generate gift ideas for gift givers. Their product, the Gift Finder, allows users to describe the gift recipient with both demographics and psychographics, after which Gift Finder automatically recommends a list of unique gifts. Lifferth hopes to launch his product later this year.

In the lifestyle category, first place went to Kevin White and Gameday Weekenders, a startup providing UT fans with travel, accommodations, and tailgate activities for away athletic events. White, a senior majoring in business analytics, launched his company last fall, taking customers to four Tennessee road games.

Second place went to “mooch”, an app that allows individuals to save money by borrowing what they need, and make money by lending what they don’t. The “mooch” team is comprised of Jared Smith and Kyle Bashour, both seniors majoring in computer science, and Kaleigh Veca, a junior graphic design major.

Third place went to MBD Cleaning, co-founded by Beatriz Satizabal, a junior in the College Scholars Program. MDB Cleaning specializes in cleaning small businesses and high-end residences and focuses on strong personal relationships and environmentally friendly cleaning practices.

The Graves Undergraduate Business Plan Competition is held every spring. It is open to UT undergraduate students from any field of study. An outside panel of judges from the business community select the winners. Since it first began in 2008, this competition has awarded $170,000 to student startups. It has funded 50 startup ideas, 36 of which went on to become legally established companies.

Three-time Anderson Center Competition Winner Launches Company

Rentique-HCB-slideIt all started in a closet. “About three years ago I was standing in my closet and several of my friends had come over to borrow dresses, and I joked ‘I should start charging you for this,’ and that’s really when the idea first came about,” said Brandi King, a 2015 Haslam College of Business graduate and owner of Rentique.

What was once just an idea is now a reality. Rentique, a mobile fashion truck that rents high-end dresses and apparel for special occasions, is set to officially open its doors Thurs., Aug. 27 with a launch party at the Casual Pint in Hardin Valley from 3pm – 7pm. The truck features a changing room, a sitting area and a variety of clothing items, many of which are custom designs.

King, an engineering major at the time, recalls the exact moment she decided to pursue her idea.

“I was a business minor when Tom Graves (Operations Director of the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation) came to speak in one of my classes about entrepreneurship. His speech got me really excited, and I changed my major that day.”

From there, she went on to take ENT 350: Introduction to Entrepreneurship, and less than two months into the semester, she had located a business partner and legally formed her business.

“I remember Dr. (David) Williams saying in class one day, ‘An idea is just an idea until you go and do something about it,’ and that’s when I decided to take the first step,” King said.

Knowing she needed to partner with a fashion designer, she set out to find someone local. She came across Jenifer Sanabria, owner of Jeni D. Designs, and reached out to her online.

“I had seen Jenifer’s Kickstarter campaign for her clothing line online. I really loved her designs, and I figured she had an entrepreneurial side based on her use of Kickstarter. We ended up meeting for coffee to discuss the idea of starting a fashion truck, and we hit it off,” said King.

Soon after, the partnership was formalized, and Rentique was one step closer to becoming a reality.

The next challenge was finding funding in order to get Rentique up and running. King secured a loan through UT Federal Credit Union’s Line 12 Fund, allowing her to purchase a used Wonder Bread delivery truck.

King then secured an additional $16,000 in funding by winning all three competitions offered by the Anderson Center in the spring semester. She first won Vol Court, collecting $1,000 in cash as well as legal and accounting services. Next, she was awarded $10,000 in the Boyd Venture Challenge, and she completed her sweep by collecting a $5,000 prize for first place in the 2015 Undergraduate Business Plan Competition.

“Winning those competitions was a huge help,” said King. “The cash was used for the truck build-out and our website. It included getting the logo designed, the truck wrapped and building the interior of the truck. We’ve used part of it toward inventory as well, but a lot of that was my partner’s contribution. As part of winning Vol Court, I was also able to meet with Erick Jackson at PYA, and he’s helped me set up Quickbooks.”

King kept costs down by completing a lot of the work on the truck herself with the help of friends and family.

Rentique will launch with 200 dresses on board in 38 different styles. Dresses can be rented for a flat fee of $19.99 for one dress or $29.99 for two. Dresses may be kept for seven days and returned either to the Rentique truck or any Prestige Cleaners location.

For the launch party, there will be giveaways, promotional items, and a few door prizes. In addition, the first 10 customers will be able to rent two dresses for the price of one.

“We’re really excited for the official launch,” King said. “It should be a fun night, and it’s a great chance for people to come out and check out the truck.”

The Rentique truck will be parked in front of the Casual Pint on Hardin Valley Rd. from 3pm – 7pm on Thurs., Aug. 27. King is working with many local businesses to establish future dates. Customers can keep up with the truck’s location by following RentiqueTruck on Twitter or checking www.rentiquetruck.com.

Six Student Startups Honored in UT Undergraduate Business Plan Competition

UBPC-notext-slideSix student startups won the eighth annual University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Undergraduate Business Plan Competition and cash prizes last week.

The students competed through three rounds of judging for first, second and third place in two different categories—high growth businesses and lifestyle businesses.

First-place winners won $5,000, second-place winners received $3,000 and third-place winners won $2,000. In total, $20,000 of donated prize money was awarded to the six winning teams through the competition sponsored by the UT Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Thomas Truett, a senior in business management with a collateral in entrepreneurship, and Anthony Meyer, a junior in electrical engineering, took first place in the high growth category with Make Me Modern Inc., a web development company. Make Me Modern is developing Breeze, a software that will enable customers to preview their existing website in a variety of provided modern designs and allow them to update the look of their website with a simple push of a button.

Second place went to the MyBannerPlus team comprised of Cory Walker, a senior in computer engineering, Henry Thomas Carr, a senior in interdisciplinary programs, and Ben McKerley, a senior in industrial engineering. MyBannerPlus is an intuitive scheduling program that builds off of Banner, a scheduling system used by many major universities. MyBannerPlus uses inputs of course names or numbers to provide users with a list of all possible scheduling options. To date, My Banner Plus has been used by students at eight different universities, logged 44,860 hits, 10,771 unique visitors and generated 25,484 schedules.

Third place went to Brennan Galbraith, a freshman in marketing, who is developing Earworm. Earworm is an auditory educational tool that allows users to input up to 200 words of text, which is then put to a backbeat, instantly transforming it into a song that’s easy to memorize.

In the lifestyle category, first place went to Brandi King, a senior in human resources management with a collateral in entrepreneurship, and her company Rentique. Rentique is a Knoxville-based fashion truck renting high-quality dresses for special occasions. It is scheduled to launch in August.

Lucas Broderick, a junior in business administration and founder of ViaTech, finished in second place. ViaTech is a company building custom gaming computers and providing users with a simplified buying process.

Finishing third was Annalee Mueck, a senior in finance, and The Back Patio, a company catering to couples of all ages by offering a venue for a lineup of unique and ever-changing events, classes and activities that keeps date night fresh and exciting.

The Undergraduate Business Plan Competition is held every spring. It is open to UT undergraduate students from any field of study. It is judged by an outside panel of members from the business community. This year’s judges included Gus Zacharias, CEO of Tennessee Marble; Bill Jenkins, a retired corporate executive and consultant; Kevin Kragenbrink, founding partner of Estrada Strategies; Eric Dunn, founder of Catalyst Coaching, a business consultant and serial entrepreneur; Will McDermott of The McDermott Group, LLC; and Damon Rawls, founder of Damon Rawls Coaching LLC.

For more information about the Undergraduate Business Plan Competition and other Anderson Center-sponsored competitions, visit http://andersoncei.utk.edu.

Deadline Extended for Undergraduate Business Plan Competition

Due to the recent disruptions caused by inclement weather, the application deadline for the Undergraduate Business Plan Competition has been extended by one week to Friday, March 6.

The Undergraduate Business Plan Competition features three rounds of judging and is open to UT Knoxville and UT Institute of Agriculture undergraduates from any field of study. First, second and third prizes of $5,000, $3,000 and $2,000, respectively, are awarded in two business categories, growth and lifestyle. In order to compete, students must submit a one-page (minimum) statement of concept to acei@utk.edu. (Full application details: tiny.utk.edu/UBPC)