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West Virginia Collegiate Business Plan Competition now part of national program

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2016-17 Collegiate Business Plan Competition winners included, from left, H2OLD-It, Keith Heisler, WVU; SwifTag Systems, Zach Wright and Brandon Lucke-Wold, WVU; and Byrd’s and Bees Honey, Matthew Byrd, WVU. The competition, now in its 12th year, has partnered with the longest-serving CEO in Silicon Valley to elevate the event to the national level.
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The West Virginia Collegiate Business Plan Competition has partnered with Silicon Valley’s longest-serving CEO to become part of a national network of similar competitions, and will benefit from valuable financial and mentoring resources.

The statewide event that encourages students from West Virginia’s colleges and universities to participate in a competition that awards three $10,000 grand prizes is now part of the ZinnStarter program to help college students launch new products and companies. Ray Zinn, the longest-serving CEO in Silicon Valley and founder of Micrel Semiconductors, provided $10,000 to the West Virginia University BrickStreet Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, host of the statewide competition.

The West Virginia Collegiate Business Plan Competition is now part of a national network that includes Brigham Young University, San Jose State University, Utah Valley University and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. The BrickStreet Center operates out of WVU’s College of Business and Economics. The event is starting its 12th year. 

“The West Virginia Collegiate Business Plan Competition has a valuable and consistent discipline of innovation and entrepreneurship that matches the vision, values and culture of my leadership and experience,” Zinn said. “I’m thrilled with the opportunity to work directly with the students to plan and facilitate the creation of a new company.”

Zinn is the creator of Tough Things First, a book, podcast and leadership platform that reflects his nearly four decades leading a Silicon Valley company. The ZinnStarter program is designed to allow students to create go-to-market plans, finish prototypes and ultimately be evaluated on the performance of their use of funding. In addition to the $1,000 cash each competition finalist receives, each will also receive a copy of Zinn’s book.

The ZinnStarter program also provides opportunities for students to be a part of a board of directors that will determine how the $10,000 in funding to the competition will be spent. The newly created student board could opt to award the money to finalist teams who exhibit outstanding business planning, potentially increasing the $10,000 final prize money which will go to winners in each of three categories.

“This is a significant step upward for the competition and will benefit collegiate participants across West Virginia,” said Julia Bolt, coordinator of the business plan competition and assistant director of the BrickStreet Center. “The investment of expertise, knowledge, mentoring and funding is a big plus for every participant in the competition.”

The BrickStreet Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is part of the WVU IDEA Ecosystem, a university-wide network of centers, offices and programs that fosters and supports innovation and entrepreneurship in WVU students, faculty and staff while engaging the statewide community. A visual map of the full ecosystem and detailed information about the resources included in it can be found here.

For further information on the WVU College of Business and Economics, follow B&E on Twitter at @wvucobe or visit



CONTACT: Patrick Gregg, WVU College of Business and Economics

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