A personalized scholarship database; a customized online cookbook; a product that revolutionizes how acoustic drums are recorded. These are just some of the innovative ideas that were created by Mason students and presented at the fourth annual Dean’s Business Plan Competition in December 2010.
Sponsored by Mason’s School of Management (SOM) and supported by the Mason Entrepreneurship Initiative, the competition takes place at the end of the fall semester. During the competition, undergraduate student teams submit business plan ideas and receive feedback from successful entrepreneurs, as well as cash rewards.
“I believe it is very important to help students realize their potential and connect with members of the business community,” says Mahesh Joshi, the associate professor of entrepreneurship and global strategy who started the competition.
“In addition, the competition furthers the mission of the university by encouraging students to think entrepreneurially and gets them excited about creating firms based on their own original ideas.”
Within SOM, students taking the MGMT 451 New Venture Creation course are selected to present their business plans in the Dean’s Business Plan Competition. In addition, students pursuing a minor in business and enrolled in MSOM 304 Entrepreneurship: Starting and Managing a New Enterprise participate in the competition.
Both courses are designed to help students gain a greater understanding of entrepreneurial concepts and new venture creation.
Learning from the Pros
An important part of the competition, notes Joshi, is the opportunity for students to interact with members of the business community. For students in the competition, this interaction starts in the classroom.
Robert Gaudian, David Miller and Skip West are successful entrepreneurs who have started their own companies and are actively involved in managing their businesses. As adjunct SOM faculty members, they also happen to teach the courses from which the business plan student teams are drawn.
Joshi also invites several entrepreneurs, many of whom are Mason alumni, from across the country to judge and sponsor the competition.
Some of the alumni who participated in the 2010 competition include the primary sponsor, Chuck Schue, EMBA ’05. He is founder and chief executive officer of UrsaNav Inc., which provides engineering and information technology services. Others are Bhupesh Wadhawan, BS Accounting and Management Information Systems ’02, who is president of Link Solutions Inc., an information technology and management consulting services firm; Norman Ryan Merritt, MBA ’09, co-founder of Meret & Co, a professional women’s wear company; and Walter Pinson, BS Computer Science ’97 and EMBA ’10. Beckyanne Theriot, founder of A First-Class Move, a move management company, expects to receive a BIS degree this year.