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College of Business announces 2012 business plan winners


JONESBORO, Ark. — Students from Arkansas State University displayed their business skills by developing ideas for the recent 2012 Business Plan Competition and Catalyst Innovation Award and putting them to the test. Winners were selected for the College of Business’ annual event.

“Students find the business plan competition a real challenge for doing what it takes to craft a business idea, develop a plan to formalize the viability of the idea and present an investment opportunity to potential investors,” said Dr. Erick Chang, assistant professor of management and director of the business plan competition. “We require students to offer business ideas that offer a product or a service than can qualify as innovative and hard to imitate.”

First place winner of the competition and recipient of the $500 prize money is “Duck Duck Doc,” an iPhone application to schedule doctor’s appointments in Craighead County and surrounding areas. The team consists of Ethan Morehead of Calico Rock, Lindsey Ellison of Jessieville, Clayton Harbers of Jonesboro, Chris Pledger of Sheridan, Jamie Harris of Cave City and Amy Whitener of Jonesboro.

The second place $300 winner is “ARAquaFarm,” a company that uses aquaponics to grow its products that include fish, fruit, vegetables, flowers, plants and trees and distributes them locally. Team members are Kirsten Druckenmiller of Beebe, Sally Garringer of Lonoke and Sarah Doty of Searcy.

A service company, “Aurora 3D Printing,” developed customized 3D printing products via e-commerce channels mainly relying on a highly integrated smartphone application and took third place along with $200 prize money. The team consisted of Xingui Huang, Dong Wang, Jing Lin and Hongmei Li, all from China.

Additionally, ARAquaFarm and Aurora 3D Printing tied for the Catalyst Innovation Award and won $125 for each team. Catalyst, a program of the ASU Research and Development Institute, offers business services, executive office suites and conference space, and state-of-the-art laboratory facilities to new and growing science and innovation based ventures.

Catalyst seeks and serves as a hub for interactions between ASU and the regional business community in order to encourage collaborative innovation, entrepreneurship and commercialization between the private and public sectors.

Dr. Chang noted that over 100 students and 22 business plans were submitted to the first round of competition. The business plan competition originated in 2008 with eight students and four plans. Soon after, plans were entered from students at ASU-Beebe and ASU-Mountain Home.

The competition is open to all students (undergraduate and graduate) enrolled at Arkansas State. The student does not have to be a business major to enter and may team with students from other academic disciplines. Students are allowed to work in teams of up to five people.

“Students need to develop business skills to integrate what they have learned in their prior course work and put their knowledge in practice,” concluded Dr. Chang. “Particularly, I make them aware that business plans are used everywhere, from individuals willing to start a business to large corporations that need to expand or explore new markets.”

Dr. Chang also said that students can use this experience in their portfolio of class work and can be shown to a prospective employer.