MTSU student entrepreneurs win cash for best business ideas

MTSU student entrepreneurs win cash for best business ideas | MTSU News, MTSU business, business, MTSU, Murfreesboro news

Pictured from left to right are John Mullane, Ralph Williams, Theresa Daniels, Dr. David Urban, Wes Compton, Ryan Egly, Dr. Patrick Geho, (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Three MTSU students earned cash for their business concepts after pitching them during the university’s first Student Business Idea Competition.

Held in conjunction with the university’s observance of Global Entrepreneurship Week Nov. 15-22, the contest offered $2,500 in cash prizes: $1,200 for first place, $800 for second an $500 for third.

The Wright Travel Chair in Entrepreneurship in the Jones College of Business and the MTSU-Tennessee Small Business Development Center sponsored what organizers hope will be an annual contest.

Dr. Patrick Geho, state executive director of the Small Business Development Center, said organizers wanted to get students thinking about entrepreneurship.

The rules allowed any full-time adult MTSU student to submit one or more original business ideas online for a chance to pitch a concept in person. MTSU professors then vetted the ideas to determine the ones with the greatest potential. The only exception: No proposals could be a franchise or an existing business.

“The whole idea was to engage all of the colleges,” said Geho, adding that 47 ideas were entered online and seven finalists chosen.

“We had two colleges represented among the winners, and of the whole group, we had every college in the university represented.”

Contest entrants had to state why their concepts were great business ideas. They also were asked to name and briefly describe the business, propose a location, and describe potential customers and how to reach them.

TSU senior Wes Compton of Chattanooga, a business management major, won the top prize for his business software idea to prevent cyberbullying by alerting parents to potentially harmful keywords and phrases in their children’s online communications. The software would flag the communications before they’re published on social media.

Second-place winner Ryan Egly, a senior organizational leadership major from Lawrenceburg, Tenn., described his idea as geared toward small businesses — “kind of a small-business social media management firm.”

MTSU sophomore Theresa Daniels, a Nashville resident and university studies major, earned third-place with her business idea, “Theresa’s Twists: Pretzels with a Purpose.” The café/coffee house concept would provide job opportunities and social outlets to those like herself with Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism.

Geho said he hopes to gather financial support for the competition from area businesses. They can benefit, he said, because a contest like this teaches students “not only to go into business for themselves but to also be a more valued employee, because they are aware of the process of business development.”

Next year, Geho said, his office will offer training earlier in the semester for students who want to enter the competition but are unfamiliar with preparing business pitches.


Jimmy Hart, MTSU News

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