Business Plan Competition winner announced
In the wake of the devastating floods in our area the last several weeks, I’m reminded of a popular phrase that often surfaces in times like these, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”
Using this phrase isn’t meant to sound mercenary nor insensitive, but to challenge all of us to think of positive innovation as the region cleans up from the mighty waters.
New generations saw water flood into areas that had never flooded in their lifetime
Sandbags were taken to places that had never needed sandbags before. Flood insurance was needed in places that had never flooded before. From an entrepreneur’s perspective, what innovation could lessen the effects of flooding when it happens again? And it will happen agai
A few years ago, an ice storm hit our area causing minor damage and power outages. Just a year later, the January 2009 ice storm hit causing major damage and weeks without power. From the first ice storm to the next, we saw entrepreneurial activity abound. Generators showed up in all shapes and sizes. Stoves and heaters from fuel other than gas and electricity were heavily marketed.
As needed as those items were, my question is whether we, collectively as a society of entrepreneurs and innovators, spend enough time considering true innovation after disasters.
An internet search of “innovative products and services after Hurricane Katrina” netted only a few returns. One innovation came from a company that commercialized a new fiberglass-based drywall that was highly moisture resistant, “Perfect for flood and storm-battered houses.”
Another article touted, “Houses that would literally float in the event of flooding.”
I can’t speak to the validity of either product, but at least someone devoted research and development to something that might lessen the impact of a similar weather event in the future.
No doubt many sets of muscles are still sore from lifting sandbags. In the weeks ahead, the smell of mildew and bleach will leave unpleasant memories.
The cost of lost equipment and fewer customers will strike a blow to many small businesses. So, in their honor, I challenge the thinkers in our region to devote at least a few moments brainstorming. Let’s be the region that innovates a stronger roof, an application that helps us prepare ourselves for disaster, or at the least, a better sandbag.
Business Plan Contest ‘in the books’
EntrePaducah’s first-ever Business Plan Competition has a winner. As you may have read recently in the Paducah Sun business section, a start-up called Dream Green was the judges’ choice for the $2,500 prize donated by Paducah Bank.
Dream Green, developed by April Freeman and Casi McClure of Paducah, hopes to begin curbside collection of recyclable materials in the near future.
Runners-up in the contest were Emerging Media Productions (Curt Stewart and Kevin Klepeis) and The Green Sheep (Kristin Bell).
All three companies advanced to the final round of judging strictly on the content of their business plan. The budding entrepreneurs spent hours composing the elements of the plans — the concept descriptions, the marketing plan, the operations plan, and the financial proposals.
Moving into the finals of the competition meant that each company had to give a verbal investor pitch to a new panel of judges in a setting similar to ABC’s “Shark Tank.”
It was a major challenge to all the contestants. All stepped up and gave it their best shot. We’re proud of all three companies for the work they put into their business plans and how they prepared for the live presentation. But that’s not the whole story.
As an agency supporting small business development, EntrewPaducah’s goal in conducting a business plan competition was to bring awareness to the importance of business planning. New businesses are not only more likely to succeed, but are more likely to sustain their growth if a solid plan is developed and followed.
Our contest drew eight total contestants. All of the entries had redeeming qualities and were good enough to be presented to an actual loan officer or investor. And for all of them, it was their first experience writing a business plan for their own company.
As these entrepreneurs continue their journey toward launching their own businesses, we feel certain they will share their experiences with others. We also feel certain they will serve as ambassadors to a new generation of entrepreneurs in our community; Entrepreneurs that are well-prepared and feel supported by EntrePaducah and its stakeholders (city of Paducah, McCracken Fiscal Court, Greater Paducah Economic Development Council, Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce, and Murray State University).
So the next time you notice the glow of a computer screen from a window in the wee hours of the morning, or someone at the coffee shop with a laptop and an intense glare, remember that moment.
It may be the entrepreneur who’s constructing a business plan for building a better sandbag.
Terry Reeves is the concierge for EntrePaducah, a joint effort by Paducah and McCracken County governments, the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce and Greater Paducah Economic Development Council to foster small-business growth. Contact him at 270-443-1746 or email@example.com.