SUU Hosts Annual State Bank Business Challenge

Published: October 12, 2021 | Author: Lyndsey Nelson | Read Time: 3 minutes

2021 State Bank Business ChallengeAs part of the One Utah Summit, Southern Utah University’s Larry H. and Gail Miller Center for Entrepreneurship hosted the annual State Bank Business Challenge on October 4 and 5, 2021. The competition gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their business and compete for prize money, business resources and support from mentors in the community.

“The State Bank Business Challenge included participants from Utah State, Dixie, SUU, Southwest Tech, and Snow College,” said Dr. Tyler Stillman, director of entrepreneurship at SUU. “It also included residents from throughout rural Utah. It’s the only event I’m aware of that actively partners with university students and community members.”

The State Bank Business Challenge is intended to help identify and support high-potential early-stage businesses. The first round of competition took place on Monday, October 4. and entrepreneurs presented to a round of judges. After deliberation, a group of seven entrepreneurs were selected to present their businesses to a second panel of judges and roughly 700 conference attendees on October 5. From there, winners were selected to receive various cash prizes.

At this year’s competition, seven finalists won the following awards:

  • Mirryn Morrill, Morr Decor, $5250 (Including the $3000 Governor’s Choice Award and mentoring with Carine Clark), Morr is a 2021 SUU Graduate and last year's S4 Competition Grand Prize Winner.
  • Daniel Cluff & Bryce Bennett, Bactelife, $5000
  • Michael Oliphant, Safer Paver, $4800 (including the $3000 People’s Choice Award, mentoring with Rich Christiansen, a luxury cabin stay and two hours of tax advising, courtesy of Derek Christensen & Associates
  • Clark Barlow, Buttermints, $3250
  • Daniel Warren, Bison Paddles. $3000
  • John Farnsworth, Gang Box Lid, $1750 (Also included 4 hours legal consulting courtesy of M.A. Munson Law)
  • Shawn Johnston, Splendipity Hammocks, $1750

“It's basically a smaller, faster version of going on Shark Tank where you have the opportunity to introduce your business and your plans and potentially take home some awesome prizes,” said Governor’s Choice winner Mirryn Morril. “I heard about the competition through SUU and participating was an amazing opportunity that I am so grateful for.”

In addition to winning cash prizes, one of the greatest prizes for new entrepreneurs is the ability to form connections with fellow entrepreneurs from all across the state.

“The State Bank Business Challenge is a great way to network with other business owners and mentors who can help you and your business grow to its full potential,” said Micheal Oliphant, winner of this year’s People’s Choice Award. “Just being able to present your business to this group is winning all by itself.”

Oliphant’s business, Safe Paver, allows almost anyone to remain standing while picking up and laying down concrete pavers with one hand. Other tool manufacturers have crafted paving tools that are extremely expensive or cumbersome to use. The Safe Paver received $5000 in cash prizes as well as additional mentoring and advising prizes to help push the business forward.

“I thought it was just a small business competition to see who could win $25k. I didn’t know the connections that I would be making,” said Clark Barlow. “I think the biggest thing for me is that I will be recognized as a peer in the community, and people will take me seriously. This has given me the connections to take the business three steps forward faster.”

The State Bank Business Challenge is an incredible opportunity for entrepreneurs to learn new skills, connect with each other, and to discover other businesses starting throughout the state.

After another long year of hard work, dedication, and business development, Southern Utah University once again hosted the One Utah Summit (formerly known as the Utah Rural Summit). This bi-annual conference brings together business, education, government and politicians together to collaborate and innovate.

For more information about the One Utah Summit, visit the One Utah Summit website.

Tags: Entrepreneurship Startup Regional Services School of Business

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