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This item originally appeared in the Feb. 12, 2004, issue of The Tech Talk.

By JULIE MILLER

Staff Writer

The university's Top Dawg Business Plan Competition began its first round Jan. 31, when students presented their innovative business ideas to judges for feedback.

Teams will revise and re-submit their plans for final judging Feb. 28.

The competition is sponsored by Association of Business, Engineering, and Science Entrepreneurs (ABESE), an organization created by Tech students for the promotion of student entrepreneurship.

"Students gain knowledge and experience of putting together a business product," Deborah Inman, faculty adviser for ABESE and coordinator of entrepreneurial studies, said of the competition. "Most [of the students competing] eventually would like to own their own business, and they'll have to have a business plan. They are doing this for experience."

The competition involves 24 students divided into seven teams: AE CORP, Aqua Team, Crash and Burn, IntraSpec, InterLingo, NAVYWEAR and NCARD.

Contestantsí majors range from computer science to engineering to elementary education.

ABESE's founder Ben Erwin, a senior electrical engineering major, is the competition's founder and chief coordinator. He said students who participate in the competition develop an innovative business venture and write a business plan for it.

"The teams compete for cash prizes by presenting their business plans before a group of industry experts," Erwin said.

A total of $5,000 will be divided among first, second and third place winners.

"The main goal of the competition is to provide real-world business experience to students across campus," Erwin said. "It gives them an opportunity to participate in a business environment that a classroom cannot provide."

Erwin said the competition offers a complete business experience to all students, even if they have no business skills.

"This is also a real-world simulation, so business students are allowed an opportunity to use what they have learned in the classroom and improve upon this knowledge," Erwin said.

Inman said the most valuable experience for the students will be working with the judges.

"They all have business expertise and experience that they can give to the students," Inman said.

The judges for the first round were: John Buske, retired from Kindred FHP Products in Ruston; Benny Denny of Ruston Building and Loan; Miriam Russell of Louisiana Economic Development in Baton Rouge; Joel Trammel of NetQos in Austin, Tx.; and Bob Tucker with Jones, Walker in Baton Rouge.

Kelli Gremillion, a sophomore elementary education major, participated in the competition with the InterLingo team.

"I think it's a good experience," she said. It challenges people to be creative and to go beyond their limits. One of my teammates has done a lot of research on the product we made and through that has learned a lot about the financial aspect of business."


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