The student team from Belmont University won the Grand Prize for the first ever “Values & Ventures Business Plan Competition” held April 15 at the Neeley School of Business at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. Entrepreneurship students Emily Hollingsworth and Emilie Lico and Finance and Accounting student Ayesha Ghaffar presented their business plan for Mattress Works – a mattress recycling venture created to provide employment opportunities for local homeless men while also diverting waste from landfills – to a panel of experienced new venture investors and consultants. The Belmont team impressed the five judges with their concept, presentation and business plan and was awarded $10,000 for the Grand Prize. They also were honored for Best Oral Presentation and Best Values-Based Concept.
Upon completing the intensive two day experience, Hollingsworth, a senior and the team’s leader, said, “The Values and Ventures competition was an amazing opportunity to share our entrepreneurial vision with other talented students. It was a blessing to see our business concept received so positively, and I came away with valuable feedback from the competitors and judges. This experience solidified my belief that values-centered business can be a force for positive change in my community.”
Dr. Mark Schenkel, assistant professor of entrepreneurship Belmont University, added, “It was an honor for our team to be invited to compete against an elite group of their undergraduate peers from some of the most prestigious academic institutions in the country at this inaugural event. The opportunity was a testament to the caliber of students, academic and extracurricular programming, and student entrepreneurial activity that exists on our campus. We are thrilled with the performance and very proud of what they accomplished with the development of this values-driven concept. ”
The Values and Ventures competition was designed to help student entrepreneurs recognize and live their own values when creating their enterprises, to champion their desire to do good while doing well. Over two days, teams presented their business plans to a world-class panel of entrepreneurs, investors and business consultants. These experts provided feedback on various venture aspects, including the assessment of feasibility, long-term sustainability and identification of potential funding and growth opportunities. In addition, participants garnered a rare opportunity to network among a robust group of experts that shared the goal of assuring sustainable prosperity while supporting the needs of company owners/shareholders, employees and their families, suppliers, customers, communities and the environment.