Grove City College student entrepreneurs competed for $24,000 in prize money in the Wolverine Venture Battle, a contest that simulates the real world hunt for the lifeblood of business: funding. The competition is a reimagination of the original Business Plan Competition.
Nine teams – with business ideas including an app to aid Alzheimer’s caregivers, another that helps keep the magic of Christmas alive, a device that lets swimmers determine how hard and fast they make the turn off the wall, and businesses tailored to empower military wives and those with intellectual disabilities – spent months preparing for the competition coordinated by the College’s Center for Entrepreneurship + Innovation (E+I).
They researched the viability of their businesses, drew up detailed financial projections for investors, and crafted the all-important pitch. On Friday, May 3, they faced off in front of an on-campus audience of faculty, students and a group of judges pulled from the ranks of the College’s alumni and friends.
Judges allocated prize money based on their assessment of an idea’s potential and the team’s need for investment. After hearing from all the teams – and peppering them with questions – the judges individually made their investment choices. Every team secured some funding. The prize awards, proposed businesses and the students behind them are:
- $6,749 for Visual Patience - Grace Hovis ’19
- $6,501 for Santa's App - Zach Hanson ’22, Garrett Jacobs ’20, and Randall LaBrie ’20
- $4.250 for H2Mark - Lindy Bowser ’19, Caleb Miller ’20, Robert Goodrich ’21 and Addison Hockins ’19
- $2,000 for Cup of Joy - Jordan Wirth ’19, David Cheung ’19 and Matthew Schallus ’19
- $1,500 for Scan Shop Ship - Cameron Suorsa ’21 and Jonathan Brutt ’18
- $1,000 for QwikHR - Jake Murphy ’21 and Andrew Graber ’19
- $1,000 for Phalanx Fitness - David Corbin ’20, Mitchell Harvey ’20 and Daniel Carns ’20
- $500 for Acceptum - Mark Sotomayor ’20, Ethan Harvey ’20, and Ryan Budnik ‘19
- $500 for Big Yarn - Aby Griffith ’21 and Heather Hondel ’21
The first-place team also receives in-kind help with financial planning, legal issues and web services.
“Each year, the Wolverine Venture Battle field grows stronger. In fact, this was the first year that all the teams received money from the investors. With these funds in hand, the teams will be able to move faster and further than they ever imagined. We are thankful for the time, treasure and talent that our investors bring to the table,” Yvonne English, E+I executive director and professor of Entrepreneurship, said.
The Wolverine Venture Battle is open to all students, not just business and entrepreneurship majors, and simulates the real world by allowing teams to compete without the confines of a cumbersome administratively heavy business plan. A record-setting 51 teams entered the Venture Battle. The nine finalists were selected after an earlier round of judging, a process that involved 63 reviewers.
Tim Habbershon ’81, Matt Knouse ’92, Pete Durfee ’80, Barbara E. (Spotz) Johnson, Esq. ’79, Ron Amstutz, Dan Creston ’81, and RJ Fryan ’08 served as judges for the Wolverine Venture Battle. They represent a variety of industries, professions and experience.
The competition was sponsored by The Habbershon Family (Tim ’81, Grant ’06, Jonathan ’09, Meredith ’07, Natalie ’11), Susan (Peshek ’81) and Peter Durfee ’80, Dan Creston ’81, Elizabeth (Smith ’81) and Peter Hanley, Laura (Koller ’11) and RJ Fryan ’08, S&T Bank, Performance Roofing Associates and Wesley Family Services. In-kind support is provided by Sisterson & Co, Pittsburgh Web Design, and Cedric E. Lewis, JD/MBA.
E+I’s VentureLab Showcase was held in conjunction with the Wolverine Venture Battle. It offered four teams the opportunity to compete for a $500 prize with the winner determined by audience vote. Piña Project, a social entrepreneurship jewelry business created by Elizabeth Higgins ’21, Elizabeth Finnegan ’21, and Stuart Rozendal ’21 took the prize. The Showcase is an outgrowth of E+I’s VentureLab, an early-stage business and social enterprise idea feasibility lab that provides seed grants and guidance to carefully screened teams of students who are developing new ventures based on their own original concepts.
For more about The Center for Entrepreneurship+Innovation, visit www.gccentrepreneurship.com.