Students representing majors from across The University of Alabama campus pitched their business plans to judges in the Edward K. Aldag Jr. Business Plan Competition Tuesday, March 27, at the Bryant Conference Center.
Started in 2014 by Edward K. Aldag Jr., CEO and chairman of Medical Properties Trust Inc., the competition fosters entrepreneurship by allowing UA students to turn their business plans into reality through a day-long series of pitch presentations to panels of judges.
The top 10 teams competed for the grand prize of $50,000; a space to start their business in The EDGE, a Tuscaloosa-area business incubator and co-working space; and mentoring from local entrepreneurs.
Additionally, the first-, second- and third-place winners received cash prizes of $5,000, $3,000 and $2,000, along with a place at The EDGE.
The Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute, which is an outreach center in UA’s Culverhouse College of Business, hosted the competition.
“We were extraordinarily pleased by the high caliber of the business ideas brought to this year’s competition. The UA campus is a hotbed of innovation, to be sure, and the business pitches reflected that.” Dr. Theresa M. Welbourne, executive director of the Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute and the Will and Maggie Brook professor of entrepreneurship in UA’s business school.
2018 Edward K. Aldag Jr. Business Plan Competition Winners
Grand Prize Winner
High Five Studios LLC: Alex Haisting, audio design, engineering, and composition major, Haleyville; Robert Petit, interdisciplinary studies major, Columbia, South Carolina; Joshua Mokwa, management major, Brookfield, Wisconsin; Cody Fletcher, computer science major, Tuscaloosa; Rachel Christ, interdisciplinary studies major, Louisville, Kentucky
Locality: Bryant Mathis, mechanical engineering major, Calhoun, Georgia; Alex Tidwell, math major, Lynn Haven, Florida; Lily Prater, creative media major, Calhoun, Georgia
Trips4Trade: Slade Johnston, MBA major, Butler
Accu Suture: Erik Hanson, management major, from Woodstock, Georgia; Trey Robbins, mechanical engineering major, Ocala, Florida
City of Tuscaloosa and Community Affairs Competition Winners
Additionally, this year’s competition was the first to partner with UA’s Division of Community Affairs and the city of Tuscaloosa for additional awards.
“We are excited about the ways the business plan competition expanded this year,” Welbourne said. “We had new awards, including one funded by the city of Tuscaloosa and a second sponsored by Community Affairs at the University. These additional awards help all of us build the entrepreneurial ecosystem in our region.”
“We are very proud of all the team members who pitched their business ideas; it’s exciting to see so much innovation and enthusiasm about starting and growing businesses,” she said. “As we move into the new EDGE building later this year, many of the competitors will come along with us, providing new opportunities to learn from each other.”
City of Tuscaloosa Grand Prize Winner
Collegiate Baseball Scouting Network: Justin Volman, sports management / New College major, Monroe, Connecticut
Community Affairs First Place
The Artemis Co.: Lauren Gwin, mechanical engineering major, from Shalimar, Florida
Community Affairs Second Place
Woof!: Knox Auerbach, accelerated master’s program-marketing analytics, Atlanta
Community Affairs Third Place
High Five Studios LLC: Alex Haisting, audio design, engineering and composition major, ,Haleyville; Robert Petit, interdisciplinary studies major, Columbia, South Carolina; Joshua Mokwa, management major, Brookfield, Wisconsin; Cody Fletcher, computer science major, Tuscaloosa; Rachel Christ, interdisciplinary studies major, Louisville, Kentucky
The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.