Students Create Business Plans for Sustainable Business Ventures

Posted: December 10, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Jennifer Edgerly

While most students were busy preparing for final exams this past weekend, 32 Mason undergraduate students were hoping to see a busy semester culminate in a $500 cash prize.

Entrepreneurship classes throughout the university were invited to participate in the second annual Dean’s Business Plan Competition sponsored by the School of Management (SOM). Instructors Bob Gaudian, Sunil Shrestha and Skip West took the challenge. Eight teams from their MGMT 451, MSOM 304 and IT 492 courses were selected to participate in the competition, which was established to showcase what the students have learned in their classes.

The competition’s theme this year dovetailed with the university’s focus on sustainability, so special recognition went to plans that demonstrated sustainable impact.

“This year, in addition to the first-place cash prize for the best business plan, a cash prize was also awarded to the team with the plan that was judged to be the Outstanding Sustainable Plan,” says Mahesh Joshi, associate professor of management and coordinator of the business plan competition.

Plans received points for sustainability that:

  • Provided a carbon-neutral or low-carbon impact

  • Met recognized industry standards for low-impact design

  • Utilized recyclable, renewable inputs

  • Planned for re-use, renewal or a whole-systems approach

  • Showed an understanding of external economic factors and how they affect business operations

The team selected as having the best overall business plan focused on creating a screenless laptop computer that uses laser-beam technology. The technology would allow the user to project and present information on a computer rather than having to use an LCD projector.

By eliminating the need for a screen, the laptop is lighter and easier to produce. The students on the winning team, called Portlabs, were Estaban Lopez, Ario Pourhamedani and Joon Shin.

The Outstanding Sustainable Plan award was given to the Mass Kinetics team, which developed a business plan for a university-level competition across the United States to generate a buzz for sustainability, particularly in power generation.

The team planned to design a competition that tasked people with creating innovative and sustainable technologies to capture the kinetic energy people produce every day. Students on the team were Jeffrey Allen, Luke Caldow, David Pachowicz and Elizabeth Smith.

Community sponsors providing the cash prizes for the competition were The Business Bank; First Virginia Community Bank; J Street Consulting; Media Force PR; Pangea Artisan Market – World Craft & Café Inc.; and United Bank.

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