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BEST Students Make Final Cut in Enterprise Creation Competition

April 4, 2006

By Elizabeth Potter

A team of three enthusiastic Baylor University students made the final cut at the 2006 Enterprise Creation Competition hosted by Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana last week. Nine teams from Universities across the United States made it to the finals. The competition offers a learning environment where students create their own business plan while providing them with the opportunity to launch their business venture successfully.

The Baylor team, all three of which are students in the BEST (Business, Excellence, Scholarship, Team) program, created their own unique business plan called Hidalgo Ethanol. "It was a 30 million gallon a year ethanol plant located in South Texas," Tamara Sanderson, one of the Baylor finalists said. "We were able to create a higher net profit margin than all of our competition and there is a huge demand for ethanol right now. The government has mandated that ethanol production must double by 2010, and the rising gas prices and foreign dependence on oil makes ethanol a great new gas substitute," Sanderson added.

The two other team members from Baylor are seniors Seth McCall and Matthew Davis. Kendall Artz, chairman, Department of Management and Entrepreneurship, and David Allen, director, John F. Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship, are two faculty members involved with the Baylor team in the competition.

"The most valuable thing I feel I learned from this experience was something that we were taught by Dr. Artz and Mr. Allen. They taught us to pursue disruptive technologies that will lead to breakthrough ideas, rather than entering markets where you simply fight to get your hand in a jar that has way to many hands in it already," McCall said. "I think that is something Baylor should be commended for"

The nine final teams were encouraged to enter business plans that clearly illustrated creativity and potential for success. All entries were evaluated, based on the written plan, by a preliminary judging panel provided by the firm Katz, Sapper, and Miller, CPAs. Cash prizes were awarded to winning teams. The Baylor team was successful in the final competition and walked away with a cash prize of $300.

"We learned so much from creating the ethanol plant. The judges gave us feedback on our business project and it made us piece together everything we had learned in the business school -- the marketing, operations, finance -- into one, big high-tech project," Sanderson said.

All finalists participated in a competitive learning environment, but also had a lot of fun along the way. Sanderson believes that the entire experience was a positive step towards their future. "It was cool to know that we had the ability to find a real opportunity in the market place and capture it with our business plan," she said. "If I were in a different stage in my life, I feel that I have enough confidence in our plan that I would try to start the ethanol plant myself," Sanderson said.

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