Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Whitworth students partner with local universities through Inland Northwest Business Plan Competition


The 2013 Inland Northwest Business Plan Competition (BPC) is a collaboration between Whitworth University's School of Global Commerce & Management, Eastern Washington University's Center for Entrepreneurial Activities, Gonzaga University, and Spokane Community College's Avista Entrepreneurship Program. The competition allows students to take steps toward starting successful businesses by competing for prizes totaling $22,500 in three categories: student-generated, community-based and social enterprise plans.

Five finalists will be selected in each category to present their business plans for the 2013 BPC to a panel of judges by mid-April. The final night of the competition, as well as the awards ceremony, will begin at 4:30 p.m. April 25 in Weyerhaeuser Hall’s Robinson Teaching Theatre. The public is encouraged to attend.

In 2012, two Whitworth teams took first place in the Inland Northwest BPC. “Whitworth Lawn Boys, the brainchild of Kyle Jordan, ’12, placed first in the student-generated category. Whitworth graduate students Tara Lambert, Kimerlee Betts and Mandell Campbell came in first place in the community-based category for developing a plan for a local Spokane business, “MaidNaturally”.

“Over the past few years, Whitworth students have brought not only great ideas, but passion for their ideas, as well,” says Tate White, assistant director of graduate studies in business and lead coordinator for the competition. “Whitworth students understand that they can stimulate real change in the world and for themselves by competing in the Inland Northwest Business Plan Competition.”

White encourages students of all majors to apply. This year more than 120 entries were submitted from as far away as India and from universities such as Duke and Stanford.

White says that the competition is a huge opportunity for students to make a difference in the business world. He described a 2008 team that comprised Whitworth and University of Washington students who submitted an idea for a social enterprise called KrochetKids to the University of Washington Business Plan Competition. Today, more than 150 people in Uganda and Peru are working, receiving education, and being mentored toward a brighter future because of KrochetKids business model. Learn more about the company at its website: http://www.krochetkids.org/.

GreenCupboards is another successful company that has roots in the BPC. Josh Neblett, who remains the CEO of GreenCupboards, began this company with the help of adjunct professor Tom Simpson while Neblett was a senior at Gonzaga University. With the winnings from the BPC and additional fund-raising through the Spokane community, Neblett turned his business plan into a reality.

What began with Neblett’s class project has flourished into a company with 57 employees, more than 800 suppliers nationwide and more than 25,000 products. GreenCupboards sells eco-friendly products online, ranging from electronics to pet supplies, and publishes a wide variety of informative articles that provide insights into living an environmentally sustainable life. Among the GreenCupboards staff are many recent Whitworth alumni and current students. Find out more at http://www.greencupboards.com.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

The Inland Northwest Business Plan Competition is supported through generous sponsorships from Avista, Spokane Teachers Credit Union, and Technet.

Contacts:

Tate White, assistant director of graduate studies in business, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4606 or twhite@whitworth.edu.

Lucas Beechinor, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or lbeechinor@whitworth.edu.