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Benefits from DSU business plan competition to expand

February 16, 2021

Regional colleges invited to join the competition

Area institutions have been invited to join in the third annual business plan competition at DSU. Throughout the competition, students see every aspect of business development, and  “hopefully students are going to learn that starting their own business is something they can do,” said Dr. Michael Roach, assistant professor of management and advisor of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO) Club.

The competition began in 2019 and has been open to DSU students; last year DSU added a high school division.

“This year we have expanded the college division to include invitations to other two-year and four-year colleges and universities,” said Roach.

Schools such as Augustana University, Dordt University, and South Dakota School of Mines have expressed interest in participating. The expanded college division will increase the competition for DSU students, but the process will benefit all, because by putting together their business plan students will learn about virtually every aspect of business, Roach explained.

“They learn a bit about economics by looking at the competitiveness of markets. They learn about accounting and finance as they put together the numbers for their business. They learn about marketing as they figure out how to communicate their product or service to customers and how to get it into customers’ hands. They learn about management as they figure out how many people they need and how they are going to successfully motivate them. They are going to exercise their creativity as they learn how to solve a problem.”

Entrants who make it to the finals will be required to create an elevator pitch.

“The elevator pitch forces the founder to effectively describe the nature of their idea briefly and succinctly,” Roach shared. “The idea is, if you find yourself in an elevator with a potential investor and you have about 90 seconds to pitch your idea, what would you say?”

The hope is to host finalists at in-person events this year, however that is dependent on the status of the pandemic. If able, DSU will also host the first High School Entrepreneurs Day that will include pitches by the finalists, campus tours, lunch, and talks from people in the area’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

This year’s competition is sponsored by Heartland Consumers Power District, Lake Area Improvement Corporation, DSU’s Research and Economic Development Office, and the Paulson Cyber Incubator and Entrepreneurial Center.

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