When the Business Battle of the Ravine begins on Feb. 7, the participants won’t be wearing uniforms or tossing a ball. The venue will be Arkadelphia Town Hall, not a stadium or gym. And instead of executing precision plays or establishing a dominant defense, these students will present their detailed business plans.
Henderson State University’s Business Plan Competition in December attracted 12 students divided into six teams who competed for $10,000 in prize money. Three winning plans were selected, and those teams will compete against the top teams from Ouachita Baptist University. The final four will share $10,000 and will go on to participate in the Donald W. Reynolds Arkansas Governor’s Cup.
“This is our third annual Business Plan Competition and the students continue to come up with great ideas and do an outstanding job developing their plans,” said Lonnie Jackson, instructor of management at Henderson and director of the competition.
The goal is to develop a feasible business idea that is converted into a business plan and presented to a panel of judges. “The competition is a highlight of one of our very significant Business Beyond the Classroom activities,” said Dr. Louis Dawkins, interim dean of Henderson’s School of Business. “Students learn how to put together a business plan, make a presentation about their plan, have it judged, and then offer it to us as competition with other plans. It is a significant positive learning experience for them.”
Henderson student Jay Orr claimed Henderson’s top prize with his plan for “Aerial Advantage Photography Service.” Chris Espinoza-Madrid, Jamar Caldwell and Marlon Johnson placed second with “Senor Chris’ Tacos.” Third place went to Clint Wilson, Michelle Gilbert and Blake Thomey for “Scootz.”
Other plans were presented by Nathan Eller and Erikka Dominguez (“Smart Fit”), Ryne Lamm and Royce Mullins (“R&R Grocery Express”), and David Sims (“Ladies & Gents”).
The presentations were made before independent judges who evaluated the teams based on the business concept and quality of presentations. The judges included: James Barnes and Heath Lehman of BBA Solutions of Little Rock; Stacey Blackard of Southern Bancorp; Danny Adams of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and Ronnie Echols of Echols, Thompson and Davis LLP of Arkadelphia. “All presentations were of excellent quality and it was very difficult to pick only three winners,” the judges said.
The purpose of the business plan competition is to spark both entrepreneurial and economic activity in the surrounding area and provide students with a realistic approach to functioning in the business world. To execute their plan and convey their idea, students must possess a strong working knowledge of market trends, business cycles, marketing techniques, financial projections, and public speaking.
BBA Solutions was the lead sponsor for the Henderson competition. “We are excited for our company to be a part of a competition among college students that promotes entrepreneurship and economic development,” said James Barnes, founder and CEO. “We know these students are the future job creators for our state which is why we view this as a necessary investment.” BBA Solutions, based out of Little Rock, is one of the largest textbook companies in the U.S. Barnes is a Henderson School of Business graduate.