CSU Announces Winners of 8th Annual Business Plan Competition

COLUMBUS, Ga. - Columbus State University's Turner College of Business recently awarded three aspiring entrepreneurs with funding to launch their own businesses. The recipients were the winners of CSU's 8th annual Business Plan Competition, which is open to both students and members of the community.

This year's contest attracted the largest number of applicants, with 69 business plans submitted. Melanie Phillips was named the 2019 winner with her business, Transitional Independence LLC. In her plan, Phillips pointed out a profound shortage of organizations that meet the needs of intellectually challenged adults in the Columbus community. The business will offer curriculum specifically designed for clients with complex learning needs, while incorporating research based instructional support and evidence-based teaching strategies to create an interactive learning environment.

The second-place winner was Juan Pinto of JP Flight School, which seeks to address a shortage of trained pilots by offering the first full-time flight school in Columbus. Amanda Miller of Miller Family Farm received the third-place prize with an idea to offer u-cut fruits and vegetables and Christmas trees in Marion County.

Applicants' business plans were judged on content, description, and use of language by a panel of judges. Cash prizes of $3,000, $2,000, and $1,000 were awarded to the first, second, and third place winners respectively.

Judges this year were Rod Barham, President of BookKeeping Express, LLC; Lou Childs, Founder and COO Dovetail Essentials; David Mitchell, Director of Enterprise Development at CSU; Russ Carreker, Chairman of the Development Authority of Columbus; Steve Taylor, retired entrepreneur; Ben MacMinn, Director of StartUP Columbus ; and Herman Williams, mentor with SCORE of Columbus.

An additional business plan competition was available to Muscogee County School District students in January. The first place winner of that competition was UV Soft, developed by Columbus High School students Xianjie Wu, Noor Abdullah, Ishika Samantarai and Ramon Xie. The second place winner was Springboard from Columbus High School students Arayman Singh and Aiden Anderson. The third place winner was Garcia Lawn and Pet from Columbus High School students Ashwin Mahadecan and Ben Garcia. The fourth place winner was Lavish Den from Carver High School student Robin Ramsey.

The business plan competition was created in 2012 by Dr. Kirk Heriot who holds the Crowley Chair in Entrepreneurship. Prize winners from previous years have gone on to start new businesses based on the plans that they entered into the competition.