The results of the fifth annual Best Business Idea Competition — sponsored by the Small Business Development Center — are in, with this year’s first place winners coming to the competition from the Thunderbird community.
The winning ideas covered a wide range of business possibilities. All represent very practical and innovative business ideas, with very bright prospects for the future.
Director of the SUU Business Resource Center Craig Isom said it is great to see all of the ideas for the competition:
“There’s lots of talent in our community and many untapped ideas and opportunities. We’re happy to see so many great ideas and to have the level of interest we have in this kind of event. What’s most rewarding is seeing so many different resources come together (university, public and private) for a very important and common cause. We extend our thanks to all who participated. Now we just have to keep the ball rolling by supporting the launch of some new, successful businesses and build upon this start to increased community partnership.”
Two of the five winning ideas were submitted by SUU students, including first place winners Dan Hermansen, a senior biology major, and Hyrum Mertlich, a senior graphic arts major, who pitched a new idea for wireless headphones that won out over 24 other entries from across the southern Utah region.
Mertlich said once he and Hermansen formed the idea that things “came together very quickly.”
Hermansen said what makes these wireless headphones unique is that they do not require Bluetooth technology or batteries to work. They are hoping to have this product ready for sale later this year.
The students received $3,000 to further pursue their business idea.
They said they are ready for the state’s Utah Entrepreneur Challenge.
Entries for this competition have been submitted and the winners will be announced at a banquet in April.
If Mertlich and Hermansen win this competition, they will receive $40,000 for their business. And over $80,000 in cash and other prizes will be awarded to runner-ups.
Second place in the regional Best Business Idea Competition went to Melanie Johnson, who developed an idea of having an online graphic program for realtors.
And SUU junior Mark Miller, a German education, received third place. His business idea focuses on receiving parts for music boxes and producing musical toys.
Both Benjamin Howe, an SUU graduate and Cedar City resident, and Ellen Treanor, a Cedar City resident, received honorable mention for their individual projects.
Howe’s business is an application that keeps track of things to do.
Treanor’s business is Youth Enjoy Success which is an extracurricular academic enrichment program for high school students to prepare them for college of a career.
This annual competition is sponsored by the SUU Small Business Development Center and School of Business, the Cedar City Chamber of Commerce and Iron County/Cedar City Economic Development (all partners of the SUU Business Resource Center).
Prize money was donated and sponsorship was provided by ADB Bank.
The mutual purpose of each of the competition’s sponsors is to support the development of small businesses in the Tri-County area of Iron, Beaver and Garfield counties and to promote healthy economic development with more jobs and an increased tax revenue base.
With the integration of community resources and the talent of the region’s entrepreneurs, the competition aims to help more and more small companies get started and successfully grow.
The SUU Small Business Resource Center, which opened its doors in April of 2009, is a “one-stop-shop” business resource, providing the necessary support and counseling services for smaller businesses and local entrepreneurs.
Ten finalists were selected from the 25 ideas entered into the annual Best Business Idea competition. Finalists then pitched ideas to a panel of judges. Winners were chosen based upon those presentations.