Business Plan Competition Finalist Presentations set for April 27

COLUMBUS, Ga. – Young, prospective entrepreneurs competing for $9,000 prize winnings will reveal their unique ideas for a start-up business as Columbus State University presents the finals of its inaugural Business Plan Competition starting at 9 a.m. Wednesday, April 27 in the Center for Commerce and Technology auditorium.

Competitors will present their plans and answer questions from a judging panel of successful local entrepreneurs in a program that’s free and open to the public.

Organized by the Turner College of Business and Computer Science, the contest’s 26 entries yielded five finalist plans.

Niterra Hill from the Teen Parenting Center will square off against Jordan High School’s Corissa Thompson in the high school division. Their presentations, starting about 10:30 a.m., will follow those by the college-level finalists – a trio of teams comprised of CSU business majors:

  • Jonathan Ussery and Jason Riel
  • Rob Schwing, David Savage and Yvonne Bryant
  • Yu-Ting Chen, Jenny Rabaduex and Jenifer Robertson
Each presentation, PowerPoint-based and 20 minutes maximum, will conclude with the students answering questions from the judges – established entrepreneurs Mac Cantrell (Action Buildings), Al Barber (Barber’s Driving School), Steve Thomas (Money Mailer) and Kiki Seda (A-1 Postage Meters). Others on the panel are Lori Auten, Columbus area director for the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center; Todd Carlisle, a consultant with the SBDC; retired Meadwestvaco executive Jack Goldfrank, now an “executive-in-residence” for CSU’s Turner college; and CSU business professor Phil Bryant.

Another local volunteer, Jenny Satterwhite, owner of Serendipity Salon and Day Spa, joined CSU business professor and contest director Kirk Heriot in reviewing the entries and selecting the finalists. Ron Hinze, consultant to the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce for small business development, helped Heriot develop and organize the competition,

The prize money, from local donors, includes $1,500 for first place in both categories and an additional $3,000 grand prize for the top overall entry. However, the experience from participating is potentially invaluable, said Heriot, CSU’s Ray and Evelyn Crowley Distinguished Chair of Entrepreneurship.

“The process of writing a business plan sharpens research and writing skills and requires building a case based on facts instead of emotion and opinion, he said. “Ultimately, it instills an appreciation for the hard work and dedication necessary for starting a business.”

Earlier this year, Heriot gave tutorial presentations on business plan writing at area high schools and for CSU students as a primer for the contest. He also urged prospective competitors to study the Small Business Association’s guidelines for writing a plan.

“The submitted plans, especially the college division finalists, contain well thought-out ideas that, with a little more research and planning, could be start-ups,” Heriot said.

One plan proposes a new sports-related service. Another proposes a unique service, with a proprietary software algorithm, to help prospective students best identify the college for which they are best suited. The third plan proposes a business for an increasingly popular outdoor recreation activity.

The winners will be announced immediately after the presentations as part of a noon luncheon at the Elizabeth Bradley Turner Center for Continuing Education.

For more information, go to or contact Heriot at 706-562-1674 or