UT’s Business Plan Competition Launches Two Entrepreneurial Ventures

KNOXVILLE — Twenty-one semi-finalists competed for $20,000 in prize money in the second annual Business Plan Competition sponsored by the College of Business Administration Department of Management at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Two winners already have used their prize money to start their companies.

Within two weeks of winning the growth category of the competition, Jason Witamyer, who just graduated with a bachelor’s degree in enterprise management, used his $5,000 prize to open Collegiate Textbook Exchange, a Web-based business connecting sellers and buyers of textbooks.

“The competition reaffirmed my conviction that I had a solid plan, and it helped me refine my strategy. It also gave me the confidence and capital to quickly move forward,” Witamyer said.

First place in the lifestyle category went to Curran Doody, who just graduated with a bachelor’s degree in finance. Doody soon will be opening DVIS, an industrial supply company.

“After the competition, I had the opportunity to meet with several of the judges and further explore my plan. I can’t put a value on their advice and counsel,” Doody said.

The Business Plan Competition, open to all UT Knoxville undergraduates, was designed to develop and encourage an entrepreneurial culture on campus.

Tom Graves, director of the college’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, said the generosity of UT alumni allowed the college to expand this year’s contest into two categories — growth and lifestyle. Growth businesses are those with expectations of expansion; lifestyle companies are businesses that intend to remain in the local community.

Other winners in the growth category:

• Second place ($3,000) — May 2009 graduates Travis Truett, enterprise management, and Brian Trautschold, finance; and rising seniors Jared Houghton, marketing, and Mark Scales, logistics, for Rate My Resume, an online service providing benefits to job seekers.

• Third place ($2,000) — Zach Linn, business pre-major, for Li-Pack, a mobile power supply company.

Other winners in the lifestyle category:

• Second place ($3,000) — Dan Fielden, May 2009 graduate in enterprise management, for Southland Brewery, a local microbrewery.

• Third place ($2,000) — May 2009 graduates Chris Kerr, enterprise management, and Wesley Spiro, accounting, for The Good Life Restaurant, a healthy fast-food restaurant where customers can customize their orders and still know the exact nutritional value of the meal.

“This competition provides participating undergraduate students an excellent chance to develop planning and persuasive presentation skills,” said Donde Plowman, interim head of the management department. “It’s another way the college is using applied learning to enhance the educational level of our graduates.”

Bill Jenkins, retired corporate executive/consultant and returning member of the judging committee, said, “Not only did we ask the tough questions, but we used our interaction with the students to support the college’s objective of making this competition an experiential learning opportunity.”

In addition to Jenkins, judges included Jim Atchley, executive vice president, First Tennessee Bank; Randy Boyd, CEO, PetSafe; Mark Isom, CEO, Premier Building Services Inc.; John Jansheski, CEO, DenTek Oral Care Inc.; Pete Landry, retired serial entrepreneur; Brad Maynard, local entrepreneur; Tracy Thompson, local entrepreneur; and Gus Zacharias, CEO, Tennessee Marble.

Contact:

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, amy.blakely@tennessee.edu)