Four SUU students were among the eighth annual Best Business Idea Competition winners, earning financial backing to turn solid ideas into sound ventures. The winning ideas covered a wide range of business possibilities for hopeful entrepreneurs across Beaver, Garfield and Iron Counties.
According to Craig Isom, executive director of the SUU Business Resource Center and Small Business Development Center, this year's contestants showed great promise and talent.
"What’s most rewarding," Isom explained of all that can come of the business idea competition, "is seeing so many different resources come together—from the University, the public and private supporters—for the very important and common cause of the region's economic viability."
This year's competition included 21 business idea submissions for start-ups in southern Utah. The first-place award of $5000 went to Steven Walquist and Sterling Holmes, for Axis Array, a patented universal solar panel mount. Second place and a $3000 prize went to Patrick Henrie and Dustin Gillies for Outlaw Lighting, which will produce street legal kits for UTV’s, ATV’s and side by sides. And third place, along with a $1000 prize went to Kevin R. Wood for an ergonomically-designed combined fishing rod grip and handle, for maximum holding power.
SUU students Mark Ashby, Matthew Edwards, Nathan Coats and Benjamin Edwards received an honorable mention for their very practical solution, Pet Life Boxes, DIY casket and headstone kits for pets. A second honorable mention was awarded to Ivie Dotson and Kim Simmerman for Tunnel Gardens, facilitating year-long growing seasons.
In addition to the honorable mention, Ashby, Coats, Edwards and Edwards received first place for their idea in the Zions Bank-sponsored Opportunity Quest, a competition specifically for SUU students in conjunction with the regional Best Business Idea Competition. The team's combined winnings of $2500 from the two competitions will help bring their ideas to fruition.
The second-place Opportunity Quest nod, along with $1,000, went to sophomore Brody Fausett's BizNme, an app that turns any smartphone into a discount directory for local deals at the touch of a button. Third place and $750 was awarded to Statton Littlefield's proposed Exist Survival business, which would produce emergency survival kits. Little field is a senior finance major at SUU.
The Best Business Idea Competition was created to support the development of small businesses in the Tri-County area (Iron, Beaver and Garfield Counties), and to promote healthy economic development with more jobs and an increased tax revenue base. This year's competition was sponsored by the SUU Small Business Development Center, Business Resource Center and School of Business, along without outside sponsors, the Southwest Applied Technology College, USTAR, Cedar City Chamber of Commerce, Cedar Band Corporation, Hughes and Associates, Kohler & Eyre, screenie.com and South Central Communications.
The mission of the SUU Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is to strengthen Utah’s economic fabric and quality of life by facilitating the success and prosperity of small business endeavors. The SBDC is located within the SUU Business Resource Center (BRC), which opened its doors in April of 2009 as a one-stop-shop business resource center and incubator to provide necessary support and counseling services for smaller businesses. The SBDC and BRC provide counseling and support services, as well as help with financing alternatives, business partnering facilitation, marketing, legal and human resource services.