Two students from West Virginia University’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design were the top winners in the 2011-12 West Virginia Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition.
Meg Grzeskiewicz, an animal and nutrition sciences major from Colden, N.Y., and Katie Workman, an agribusiness management and rural development
major from Marlinton, W.Va., each won a $10,000 prize and a package of business resources valued at $6,000.
Grzeskiewicz won the Lifestyle & Innovation category with Bulls-I Breeding Technology, which designs innovative artificial insemination equipment for cattle. Workman won the Hospitality & Tourism category for Mountain Essence Local Cuisine, a business designed to connect people visiting the Snowshoe Resort Area with meals prepared with food grown by local farmers in Pocahontas County.
This year’s competition had a record field of 117 entries from nine West Virginia colleges and universities.
“The event spans nearly the entire academic year, and the 10 finalist teams were in it for the long haul,” said Dr. Nancy McIntyre, interim director of the WVU Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship which hosts the annual competition.. “They should be very proud of their work. And the business ideas by the two winning teams, I believe, can evolve into real West Virginia businesses. That’s what this competition is all about.”
Bulls-I Breeding Technology’s principal product is the Bulls-I AI Positioner, the first video-assisted breeding device in the cattle industry.
“This product will increase the profitability of cattle operations through higher conception rates and decreased breeding expenditures,” Grzeskiewicz,said. “This offering has great potential to benefit West Virginia because of the state’s large and economically important beef cattle industry.”
Mountain Essence Local Cuisine is a takeout and delivery dining service dedicated to promoting local farmers and providing customers with a local food experience with local ingredients prepared fresh daily and conveniently in the Snowshoe Resort area.
“This service will provide family style meals for weekend tourists looking to enhance their vacation experience or for local families looking for a convenient and quality weeknight dinner,” Workman said.
To date, 546 teams from 14 different West Virginia colleges and universities have participated in the Statewide Business Plan Competition in six years. During that time, more than 100 volunteers from the statewide and regional business communities have assisted student teams. As a result of the competition, 20 finalist teams have gone on to start West Virginia-based businesses.
Winners in each category also receive a one-year professional services package including legal and accounting services, as well as space for one year in the WVU Business Incubator. The package is valued at more than $6,000.
More than 100 state and regional business professionals volunteered their time throughout the course of the competition, a facet of the annual event McIntyre said is valuable to the participants.
“Teams benefit from the exposure to these business professionals,” McIntyre said. “The experience of going through this business plan competition is invaluable. What students in this competition have learned will carry with them for the rest of their lives.”
For further information on the West Virginia Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition, go to www.be.wvu.edu/bpc/.
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CONTACT: Dr. Nancy McIntyre, WVU Entrepreneurship Center