KNOXVILLE– Six student-owned businesses won the seventh annual Undergraduate Business Plan Competition at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, this spring.
They were chosen from among 31 business plans that competed for $20,000 in donated prize money in a contest sponsored by the UT Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, housed in the College of Business Administration.
The students competed for first, second and third place in two different categories—growth and technology-enabled businesses, and lifestyle businesses.
First-place winners won $5,000, second-place winners received $3,000, and third-place winners won $2,000.
Christopher Saah, a senior in mechanical engineering, took first place in the lifestyle category with MYPTShop.com, an e-commerce site that helps personal trainers run their businesses and provides them with additional revenue streams.
Second place went to Zach Lee, a junior in hospitality management and Ayron Hall, a junior in finance, founders of complementary on-line retailers Southern Gentlemen Charm and Southern Belle Charm. The founders negotiated lucrative purchasing arrangements that allow them to offer high-quality merchandise at a $10 price point.
Third place went to It’s About Thyme, a personal chef service founded by Andrea Hayes, a senior in nutrition. The service gives time back to busy families and ensures healthy eating habits by having its chefs come into a client’s home and prepare freezable, ready-to-eat meals.
In the high growth/tech-enabled category, first prize went to three tri-athletes who started Catalyst Wheels. The founders, Justin Clark, a junior in computer science, Nick McCormick, a sophomore in mechanical engineering, and Zach McCormick, a junior in economics and statistics, designed and are manufacturing carbon-fiber wheel covers and interchangeable wheel fairings that significantly reduce expenses for competitive cyclists.
Second place went to Ben Miller, a senior in business analytics, Andrew Belt, a recent graduate in math and physics, and Benjamin Brock, a senior in computer science and math, for crypXch, a company that facilitates the exchange of cryptocurrencies.
Third place went to Ryan Maginn, a recent graduate in supply chain management, Wilson Waller, a senior in economics, and Max Wibel, a recent graduate in supply chain management with The Cloud Vendor, a company that improves the bottom line of small to medium-sized companies that manage vending machines. The data tracked by the device installed on vending machines allows machine owners to save on labor and inventory costs while avoiding out-of-stocks.
The judging panel included Gus Zacharias, CEO of Tennessee Marble; Bill Jenkins, a retired corporate executive and consultant; Jim Brogan, CEO of Brogan Financial; Bob Campbell, a local entrepreneur; Kevin Kragenbrink, founding partner of Estrada Strategies; John Sharpe, president of ARG Financial Staffing and StaffSource; Damon Rawls, founder Damon Rawls Coaching LLC; and John Morris, president of Tech2020.
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