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Business Plan Competition Winners Announced


JONESBORO – “Ala Rurru,” an idea to produce a serape-like hammock to prevent sudden infant death syndrome in Hispanic newborns, is the winner of the 2017 Business Plan Competition hosted by the College of Business at Arkansas State University. The winners were recognized Wednesday, Nov. 15, in the Delta Center for Economic Development.

Business Plan Competition Winners
Chancellor Kelly Damphousse (top row far right) and Dr. Shane Hunt, R.M. "Bob" Wood Endowed Professor in Sales Leadership and professor of marketing (second row far right), celebrate with winners of Arkansas State's 2017 Business Plan Competition.

The group of students who initiated the plan includes Nate Hills of Heber Springs; Aleks Jaksic of Jonesboro; Dylan Bly of Heber Springs and Parker Sparrow of Blytheville.

“RuGuard,” a plan to develop a mouthpiece to detect potential concussion problems for rugby players during games, was second. The students are Nathan Buie of Trumann; Josh Goldsmith of Benoni, South Africa; David Gross of Trumann; and Neil Maestri of Katy, Texas. Goldsmith and Maestri are members of A-State’s rugby team.

Third place went to Dylan Quickel of Pine Bluff, Brandon Day of Jonesboro, Jacob Green of White Hall, and Tyler Clement of Hoxie for their “Mobile Billboards” plan. “Mobile Billboards” is a system for placing advertising on the back rear windows of vehicles.

“Nutrisphere,” a ready-to-eat nutritious sphere for athletes and outdoors enthusiasts, was fourth. Developers are Caelen Baxter of Jonesboro; Yagiz Akkoc of Ankara, Turkey; Marco Kirkwood of Caruthersville, Mo.; and Jordan Shourd of Searcy.

Other winners include Melanie Starks of Little Rock for her live elevator pitch of Lazy Lap Desk, a lap desk for tablets and laptops that includes a cooling fan and a charging station.

The most innovative idea award went to Weston Wager, Takara Warren and Chelsey West, all of Jonesboro and Kyle Fouts of Beebe, for “Automated Logistics Providers.” This is a system for truck-loading automatization in distribution centers.

Winners from the freshman entries are “Plastic Lumber,” an idea to recycle plastic to use for decking as a lumber alternative, with Rhett Bryant, Rhett Fussell, Ty Cornelius and Bret Fuller as the creators, and “U-Space,” a parking solution application developed by Cynthia Barham, Nathan McMinn and Evan Pillow. The runner-up is “Watr,” a concept by Clayton Lenderman, Brandon Little, DeMichael Harris and Caleb Dean that is a high-quality umbrella with a water filtration system.

The Arkansas Economic Acceleration Foundation, a unit of Arkansas Capital Corporation Group (ACCG), a privately held group of for-profit and non-profit corporations dedicated to improving the lives of Arkansans by providing capital to help businesses, sponsored the event.

The 10th annual business plan competition awarded this year a total of $2,500 in cash that came from the cumulative winnings that A-State has won in the last three Governor’s Cups. Thirty-eight entries with 141 participants that ranged from incoming freshmen to graduate students from four colleges engaged in the competition. Since 2007, the business plan competition has distributed over $21,000 in prizes to students and the Governor’s Cup winnings over the last 10 years have been $70,000.

The Business Plan Competition was started in 2008 as an initiative from Dr. Nareatha Studdard to make A-State part of the several events that celebrate entrepreneurship worldwide. It is a part of Global Entrepreneurship Week that was launched Nov. 14 by Sir Richard Branson in South Africa.