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UM Business School Announces Business Plan Competition Winners

May 21, 2014

MISSOULA – The University of Montana School of Business Administration and the Montana Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs have announced the winners of the 25th annual John Ruffatto Business Plan Competition.

UM business school undergraduate students Matthew Gangloff and Andrew Burrington and MBA student Kyle Marshall won the top award of $10,000 for their business plan, New Leaf Environmental. New Leaf provides high-tech, low-cost environmental monitoring solutions to a wide range of customers concerned with environmental impacts.

During the 14-hour competition held May 15 at the UM Gallagher Business Building, 16 student teams competed in four divisions of judging and presentations, leading up to the evening’s final round, during which they presented their business plans to a panel of 45 judges and an audience of close to 250.

Twenty-one student teams originally were nominated in April by faculty from higher education institutions across Montana for consideration in the event, which is 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 share their expertise and commit their time before and during the competition.

Support from several sponsors and private donors funded the more than $31,000 prize purse and the students’ competition expenses. Details on the awards and winners follow.

  • First place: New Leaf Environmental: UM students Matthew Gangloff of Brattleboro, Vt., Andrew Burrington of Missoula and Kyle Marshall of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. New Leaf Environmental provides customers with a range of environmental monitoring solutions that use emerging technologies to give them more information about the air, water and soil around them. $10,000 prize.
  • Second place: Nexus Consulting: UM MBA students Pei Pei of Missoula and Weisha Song of Taiyuan, China. Nexus is a study-abroad agency in China to help students apply and enter U.S. education institutions. $5,000 prize.
  • Third place: PriceRight: UM students Claude Sammoury of Boulder, Colo., and Cliff Stolk of Edmonds, Wash. PriceRight provides pricing optimization and automation for the retail and grocery industry through electronic price tags and cloud-based software. $2,500 prize.
  • Fourth place: ATi Security: UM student Jason Newton of Polson. ATi Security provides Montana home and business owners with state-of-the-art security and automation solutions. $1,500 prize.
  • Undergraduate Business Plan Award: PriceRight: Sammoury and Stolk. $1,000 prize.
  • Elevator Pitch (90-second team presentation): Obadiah’s Solar Expansion: UM student Sarah Chain of Troy. Obadiah’s is a small commercial solar energy systems retailer expanding operations to Honolulu, Hawaii. Given to the team with the highest audience score on their 90-second presentations. $1,500 prize.

The following special awards were given to teams or individuals based on specific criteria:

  • Brandon Speth Passion, Poise, and Charisma Award: Chain: Obadiah’s Solar Expansion. $1,000 prize.
  • People’s Choice Award: Gangloff, Burrington and Marshall: New Leaf Environmental. $1,500 prize.
  • Blackstone LaunchPad Impact Award: UM student Skyler Pauli of Missoula: Montana Produce. Montana Produce Company is a geothermal greenhouse supplying the Bozeman area with fresh produce year-round. $1,000 prize.
  • Most Dynamic and Scalable Award: Sammoury and Stolk: PriceRight. Recognizes the team with growth potential during the first five years of operation. $1,000 prize.

The Blackstone LaunchPad Impact Award was presented for the first time this year. The award recognizes the plan with the greatest potential for economic impact in the state of Montana.

Also new this year, MonTEC, the UM-based nonprofit business incubator, will provide the winner of the competition with a six-month affiliate membership. This includes 24/7 access to the facility, use of all conference rooms and shared spaces, access to video conferencing and 10GB Internet services, as well as participation in all social and shared resource programs as part of the growing MonTEC community.

MADE was founded by successful entrepreneurs with the goal of bringing their experience to students and the classroom. In addition to supporting the John Ruffatto Business Plan Competition held each spring at UM, MADE organizes an advanced entrepreneurship seminar series and also honors influential entrepreneurs who demonstrate a commitment to Montana with the Pioneer in Industry Award. For more information about MADE, visit http://www.business.umt.edu/organizations/MADE.aspx.

UM’s School of Business Administration is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International, the most rigorous accrediting body for business degree programs. For more information visit http://www.business.umt.edu/.

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Contact: Larae Hackney, special program coordinator, UM School of Business Administration, 406-243-4830, larae.hackney@business.umt.edu.