MISSOULA – A true sign of the times, mobile app developers took the top prizes in the 24th annual John Ruffatto Business Plan Competition at the University of Montana.
The competition, which is sponsored by the UM School of Business Administration and the Montana Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs, was held May 16 at UM’s Gallagher Business Building.
Support from several sponsors and private donors funded the $29,000 prize purse and the students’ competition expenses. Details on the awards and winners follow:
- First place overall: $10,000, UM student Joseph McMahon, Lake Forest Park, Wash.: Magnet. Magnet allows users to broadcast their availability to their friends, and view which of their friends are currently available, or will be available in the near future.
- Second place overall: $5,000, UM student Carlos Rivera, Whitefish: Feastro. Feastro specializes in developing online and mobile solutions that bring restaurants and consumers together. Users can search, find and order food for delivery or carry-out online or from their web-enabled smart phones.
- Third place overall: $2,000, Montana State University students Tim Reusch, Bozeman; Alex Crosby,Chicago: Babylon Produce. Babylon Produce is a Montana-based hydroponic heirloom tomato producer providing competitive market prices with minimal environmental impact.
- Fourth place overall: $1,000, UM students Gregory McDonnell, Lynnwood, Wash.; Jacob Dunn, Billings; Heather Davidson, Sacramento, Calif.; Kyle Marshall, Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho; Joseph Wienke, Wolf Point: WeHaula. WeHaula specializes in providing moving, storage and cleaning services to university students.
- First place – Undergraduate Business Plan Award: $1,000, Rivera for Feastro.
- First place – Elevator Pitch (90-second team presentation): $1000; UM master of business administration students Christina Henderson, Missoula; Aimee Roberts, Vancouver, Wash.: Zoo Bike and Brew. Zoo Bike and Brew offers rental of a 16-person party bike for two-hour tours of downtown Missoula, giving locals and visitors a fun and eco-friendly way to experience our city’s popular craft brew culture. Given to the team with the highest audience score on their 90-second presentations.
The following special awards were given to teams or individuals based on specific criteria:
- Brandon Speth Passion, Poise and Charisma Award: $1,000, Reusch for Babylon Produce.
- People’s Choice Award: $1,000, Reusch and Crosby for Babylon Produce. Given to the team with the highest audience score on their presentation and executive summaries.
- Environmental and Social Responsibility Award: $1,000, Reusch and Crosby for Babylon Produce.
- Most Dynamic and Scalable Award: $1,000, McMahon for Magnet. Recognizes the team with growth potential over the first five years of operation. Presented for the first time this year.
- Most Innovative Plan Award: $1,200, UM student MarkPaul Santos of Mohave Valley, Ariz.: Rescriptz. Rescriptz is the eBay of pharmacy, used to decrease inventory of slow-turnover products. Recognizes the team with the most potentially disruptive product, service or business model. Presented for the first time this year and provided by the Hellgate Venture Network, a Missoula-based entrepreneurs network.
During the 14-hour competition, 13 student teams competed in the first round, with four teams moving on to the final round and presenting their business plans to a panel of 36 judges and an audience of close to 250.
Twenty-two student teams were nominated in April by faculty from higher education institutions across Montana for consideration in the event designed to encourage Montana students to develop their business ideas and learn about entrepreneurship from business experts. The event is judged and coached by venture capitalists, angel investors, bankers, successful entrepreneurs and corporate executives who donate their time and expertise before and during the competition.
More information about MADE is available at http://www.business.umt.edu/DegreesPrograms/MADE.aspx, and more information about the UM School of Business Administration is available at http://www.business.umt.edu.
Note to media: Photos of students receiving awards are available by calling Larae Hackney, UM School of Business Administration special program coordinator, at 406-243-4830 or emailing email@example.com.