Baylor Business Students Compete In Ninth Edward Jones New Venture Challenge

Dec. 4, 2003

by Cynthia J. Jackson

More than 300 Baylor University business students, in 80 teams, vied for cash and awards Dec. 2 in the ninth annual Edward Jones New Venture Challenge at Baylor.

The student teams were required to write a business plan and present their plans to a panel of 91 judges. The judges are business professionals who play the role of venture capitalists. The student teams must convince these venture capitalists to commit resources to their business.

The program received the Innovative Achievement Award from the Southwest Business Deans.

"As far as we know, no other university in the nation does anything like this," said Dr. Larry Chonko, professor of marketing at Baylor's Hankamer School of Business. "This year, we focused on the fitness market. Other than that, the playing field was wide open. The students could propose any kind of business they liked, as long as they were 'big enough' to manage it." Chonko explained that this left the students open to choose whether they provide products and/or services and whether they had a storefront, were exclusively e-commerce, were a catalog provider, or anything in-between.

The competition was done in the Business 1301 class, "Business, the Economy, and World Affairs." Business 1301 is a required course and most of the students are freshmen.

The judging expo was in a tradeshow format. Each student team set up a booth for their proposed company and did their best to convince the judges to provide venture capital for their business proposal.

First Place

The first place team earned $1000 each for their efforts. Their company, "Cheer Power," was rated highest in the strict judging process. The team consisted of Paige Davis, Christopher Diltz, Brooke Dimmitt, Mark Dellis, Christine Dunbar and Brittany Draughn. "It was hard. It was a lot of work," said Dunbar. "We did have some mishaps along the way, but we had a team of very goal-oriented people," she added.

"The judges told us our financials were perfect," said Dunbar. "They also said that our market analysis and competitive advantage work was all realistic. This is a company that could realistically turn a profit within one year," she explained.

The team's proposed "Cheer Power" business concept did have financial appeal. The business would offer cheerleading classes (group or competition) for patrons aged 6 to college and tumbling classes for patrons aged 3 to adult. Birthday parties would also be available at the facility.

Second Place

"Downtown Fitness Club" came in second in the competition, earning team members $500 each. The team consisted of Justin Ebert, Gerald Eddins, Coleman Elliot, Richard Elliot and William Erskine. "Rather than trying to come up with some zany idea, we thought there was a real need for a businessman's gym," explained Ebert.

Eddins felt especially thrilled to be a winner because Coach LeBaron Carruthers, former strength coach at Baylor University, owner of Championship Speed & Strength in Waco, was one of the judges of their work. "To have someone judge you that really knows the business like he does, well, that makes it even better," he said.

Third Place

Coming in at third was "Excercere'," winning $250 each for the team that consisted of Jordan Simmons, Jacqueline Simpson, Tana Simpson, Suzanne Skinner and Megan Smith. Excercere' is a corporate relaxations fitness company that would send trainers to corporate businesses teach stress relieving techniques, such as pilates, yoga and breathing exercises.

"I learned more in this class than any other I've taken," declared Skinner. "This work helped prepare us for the different things we will encounter in both our business and personal lives - working with others in groups, managing time - those things are important no matter what you do in your career. You can't learn that in a book."

Strategy Awards

Winners of strategy awards included the following teams:

First place - Kari Dvorak, Diana Hoyle, Shane Smith, Brad Wright

Second place - Angela Lee, Garren Taylor, Steven Tu, Stephen S.J. Yoo

Third place - Whitney Cartmill, Ashley Haney, Erin Miller, Amy Mitchell, Kristen Nelson, Aaron Zoeller

For more information about the Edward Jones Challenges at the Hankamer School of Business, contact Chonko at (254) 710-4243 or

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