Monday, May 21, 2018

[441] MTSU Business Plan Finals gives students, alums taste of entrepreneurship

Top three finishers win seed capital for startup ideas

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — MTSU students and alumni finalists received helpful feedback toward launching future business ventures during the 2018 Pam Wright Business Plan Competition to wrap up the spring semester.

Sponsored by The Pam Wright Chair in Entrepreneurshipin MTSU's Jones College of Business, the contest presented a platform for aspiring entrepreneurs to pitch their plans to five judges and receive feedback about how their plans could be improved.

The fourth annual Business Plan Competition Finals inside the Student Union Building rewarded the top three competitors with cash prizes — $5,000 for first, $3,000 for second, $1,000 for third — that serve as seed capital for their businesses. 

MTSU senior entrepreneurship major Evan Hemontolor, the third-place winner, said he received multiple benefits from being able to pitch judges his concept for Vendy, a vending machine supplier of high quality gourmet meals.

"Being involved in this competition allowed me to exercise my networking skills, gain problem-solving abilities and pull me out of my comfort zone," Hemontolor said.

The top three finalists and their proposals:

• First Place: University Ready – Economics alumnusMatthew Bullington's plan includes an online guide to help students navigate how to prepare for college and life after high school through custom weekly classes.

• Second Place: Salomon’s Greenhouse – Biology major Brock Arivett's plan involves an urban farm startup focused on safe and sustainable production of low-calorie nutrient-dense foods. It focuses on commercial production of high quality vegetables and partners with local ranchers to provide grass-fed beef and lamb.

• Third Place: Vendy – Hemontolor's idea involves a new way to serve high quality gourmet meals without a five-star building. It is a franchise of gourmet vending machines that can serve multiple options (pizza, cupcakes, ice cream, salads, etc.) at a fast rate.

Also, the Robert and Virgie Clouse Agricultural Entrepreneurship Spirit Award, including a $500 prize, was presented to Salomon’s Greenhouse by Wil Clouse with the Clouse-Elrod Foundation Inc. Clouse is an adjunct professor in the Womack Educational Leadership Department within the College of Education.

Other awards presented included the Best Written Plan (Brock Arivettfor Salomon’s Greenhouse); Best Elevator Pitch (Hillary Huylerfor Drunken Parrot); and Best Trade Show (Jacob Andrewsfor Drones iVue).

Students from throughout the university presented their business plans in late February, then in late March, entrepreneurs conferred with experienced evaluators on how to improve their business plans during the Business Plan Competition’s Trade Show in the Student Union Atrium. The Finals were held April 25 in the Student Union Ballroom and included a panel of five judges made up of local entrepreneurs and business leaders.

"The ultimate goal of the competition is to expose potential and current entrepreneurs to outside business people to provide necessary guidance," said organizer Stacy Aaron with the Wright Chair. "To be successful in this competition, entrepreneurs must be able to articulate the need for their product or service and successfully present their business plan to a group of leading business people in the middle Tennessee community."

The Business Plan Competition was started through The Pam Wright Chair in Entrepreneurship to foster the entrepreneurial spirit within the region. It is designed to help students and alumni in launching new business ventures, including for-profit businesses, not-for-profit businesses, corporate entrepreneurship, and social enterprise.

To learn more about the chair, visit To learn more about the Jones College of Business, visit

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