A semi-annual newsletter for entrepreneurs  | Fall/Winter 2011

Message from the Director

Dr. Mark Spriggs
Part of my job is to meet with prospective students considering which major to choose. Some of them come to me with a clear goal in mind. They will say, “I want to major in entrepreneurship – my first business was mowing lawns when I was in fifth grade, and I have been an eBay power seller for five years.” Or “I have wanted to be an accountant since I was 10.” But they are the exception, not the rule. Most students are “undecided.” And that’s just fine. The college experience should be about exploration, learning about fields of study that were not available in high school and may not have even existed five years ago; e.g. , our neuroscience major. The students that most concerns me are the ones that equate their choice of major with getting a job after graduation. They hear experts predicting a strong job market in advertising and sales, so they major in marketing. But over time, I’ve seen the flaw in this strategy again and again. When students choose a major based on the future job market, some discover later that the job isn’t interesting. Others leave the field after a few years, disillusioned, and hope they enjoy their next job more.

I believe what is missing in their choice is passion. I ask them, “What matters to you? What motivates you? Do you like working with others? Learning how things work? Building something? What do you do in your free time? ” These are the types of questions that can help them discover their passions, and they can pursue that passion in college. After all, the most consistent advice entrepreneurs offer is pursue your passion. Why can’t it work for others? So when that friend, relative or co-worker says she is trying to figure out what to study in college, encourage her to study what she is passionate about, and assure her she can figure out what vocation fits her passion later.

Business Plan Competition – May 12, 2011

The winners of the undergraduate competition:

First Prize: Amanda Schultz and Jeremy James – Green Receipts
Green Receipts (GR) is the first electronic receipt service that allows participating retailers to obtain 90-98% of valuable customer analytic data while mitigating paper receipt costs, greatly reducing return fraud and limiting environmental impact. In addition, the Green Receipts Mobile Application permits the end user to view the receipt on a smart phone upon the completion of each transaction, all while allowing the user to manage, export and control receipts in one central, online location. Users will receive an unprecedented amount of control when viewing and organizing their receipts, streamlining budgeting and expense tracking with GR. Other personalized features can be integrated into existing software features in an online account.

Second Prize: Ashley Adamson – a.b. Ellie
a.b. Ellie, LLC is a bridal accessories fashion label specializing in the design and creation of custom, elaborate bridal sashes. Sashes are individually sewn based on the personal needs, desires and budget of the bride. a.b. Ellie uses only the finest materials and construction techniques. a.b. Ellie’s bridal sashes had been in production for 15 months and the company had been officially servicing nationwide sales for almost 13 months at the time of the business plan competition.

Third Prize: Derek Reis and Joseph Hall – EasyApp
EasyApp is an online custom college application that allows colleges and universities to easily recruit their next freshman class. The college application process is currently time consuming and expensive for all parties involved. Students spend time and money developing countless applications that colleges then pay to process. Though the cost of recruitment is different between large and small colleges, it is still significant. EasyApp provides a solution to this problem by digitalizing the college application process. This creates value for everyone in the system by saving time and money, as well as giving admission counselors a sophisticated recruitment tool.

Fowler Business Concept Challenge – October 21, 2011

Fowler Challenge awards more than $40,000 in scholarships

Finalists awaiting the announcement of awards

The third annual Fowler Business Concept Challenge was held October 21, 2011, on the Minneapolis campus of the Opus College of Business, with teams representing undergraduate and graduate divisions from across the University of St. Thomas. More than 85 business concepts were represented in teams composed of one to three people, with four teams in each graduate and undergraduate division taking home scholarships ranging from $10,000 per team to $1,000 per team.

Focused on energizing the entrepreneurial spirit of UST students across campuses and colleges, the Fowler Business Concept Challenge gives students the opportunity to develop a business concept that has the potential to become a viable, high-growth business. This opportunity is especially motivational for those wary of starting a new business during the rough economic climate.

The teams that submit the winning business concept in each of two divisions (undergraduate and graduate) receive University of St. Thomas scholarships. Winning business concepts from the first two years of competition have evolved into real companies: Hyier, 5th Corner Media, Protégé Biomedical and Student Frenzy.

Solome Tibebu being presented her award from Dean Chris Puto and Dr. David Deeds for First Place, Undergraduate Division, for business concept Cognific.

Concepts were judged on their originality, clear and compelling value proposition, competitive advantage, market opportunity and feasibility by a panel of judges drawn from the business community and St. Thomas faculty. The judges included Alan Bignall, president and CEO of ReconRobotics Inc.; Ben Anderson, founder and CEO of Cinemotion; Chris Heim, CEO of Amcom Software; Susan Johnson, founder and CEO of Magellan Medical Technology, and other leading entrepreneurs.

The competition is named in recognition of Ron Fowler ’66, chairman and CEO of Liquid Investments Inc., whose generous gift to the university has made this and future competitions possible. Fowler was ill and unable to attend this year’s competition.

The Fowler Business Concept Challenge was open to all UST students registered for the fall 2011 semester, including undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students.

This year’s winners:

  • Nick Wagner, John Beitelspacher and Jesse Sumstad – first place, Graduate Division ($10,000 scholarship) for their concept, the Variable-Camber Wheelchair
  • Solome Tibebu – first place, Undergraduate Division ($10,000 scholarship) for her concept, Cognific
  • Matt Behrns and Zach Crnecki – second place, Graduate Division ($5,000 scholarship each) for their concept, Head Injury and Trauma Monitoring System
  • Timothy Frost – second place, Undergraduate Division ($5,000 scholarship) for his concept, TrueGreen Fuels
  • Dan Poplau, Ryan Myklebust and Monty Komanur – third place, Graduate Division ($2,500 scholarship) for their concept, Ticketswap.com
  • Kamal Mohamed – third place, Undergraduate Division ($2,500 scholarship) for his concept, Midwest Tomato Fest
  • Carl Hensley – fourth place, Graduate Division ($1,000 scholarship) for his concept, Easy Knee Stair Stretcher
  • BreAnna Fisher and Andrew Broderson – fourth place, Undergraduate Division ($1,000 scholarship) for their concept, DearYou

Matt Scott and Timothy Frost - At the reception following the event, semifinalist Matt Scott, left, congratulates Timothy Frost, finalist and runner-up in the undergraduate division, on a job well-done with his presentation for the business concept TrueGreen Fuels.

Also winning $1,000 scholarships each were Hensley for best presenter in the Graduate Division and Mohamed for best presenter in the Undergraduate Division.

The Minnesota Angels Network made a surprise appearance and presented $1,000 scholarships to all finalist teams to move forward into the MNAN program.

“We review anywhere from 10 to 20 business plans per month,” said Todd Leonard, executive director of the Minnesota Angels Network, “and we’ve looked at 100 business plans since we’ve started our program. We constantly are looking at plans and entrepreneurs, and [these UST student business plans] are every bit as much on par with what we see, and I want to applaud all of you.”

For more information visit the Fowler Business Concept Challenge website or visit the UST Fowler Business Concept Challenge on Facebook.

Schulze School of Entrepreneurship – Student Business Office Profile

Business name: The Social Lights, LLC
Owner(s): Martha McCarthy and Emily Pritchard
Type of business: Marketing & Advertising Agency
Number of employees: 2 (+ 3 PT interns)
Contact Information: info@thesocial-lights.com | 651-962-4551 | www.thesocial-lights.com

The Social Lights, LLC is an integrated marketing agency specializing in social media strategies and high-impact digital marketing campaigns. Founded in January 2011 by UST graduates Martha McCarthy and Emily Pritchard, this agency is quickly growing in the Twin Cities market.

Martha and Emily graduated from the University of St. Thomas Schulze School of Entrepreneurship in May 2011. “As part of our capstone course we wrote an in-depth business plan and pitched it to dozens of local businesspeople. After countless hours of research and ample encouragement, we knew that we wanted to pursue The Social Lights full-time after graduation” says Martha.

The Social Lights form highly creative campaigns that are fresh, fun and focused on return-on-investment for their clients. They refer to this practice as socially integrated marketing, or “Our unique method of blending our ‘secret sauce’ (high quality social media strategies) with a client’s existing marketing mix. We seamlessly integrate with a client’s current marketing strategies to give everything an extra kick” says Martha.

How Did They Get the Idea?
Last fall, they started doing social media consulting and projects for a handful of clients and kept getting referrals to do more. They decided to formalize the business and focus on what they do best: executing highly creative campaigns in the digital arena.

They spent four months interviewing potential partners, clients and local contacts in addition to researching the industry and marketing trends. They refined the business model and pitch several times. They centered their unique value proposition around creative service offerings and highly customized approach to digital marketing.

While they do not have decades of “in the field” industry experience, The Social Lights do leverage their age and abilities when pitching to clients. Emily says, “People trust us with their social media strategies because we were early adopters of these new technologies and we understand how people our age use social media.” The Social Lights are self-proclaimed social media addicts, saying “we can’t help but stay on top of the ever-changing world of social media.” Their knowledge of this space has been very valuable to clients who either do not understand or do not have time to keep up with all the new developments in social media.

The Social Lights office out of the University of St. Thomas, Schulze School of Entrepreneurship Student Development Offices in downtown Minneapolis. More information about The Social Lights, visit their website.

Alumni Corner

Article by Justin Sundberg – Entrepreneur Entrance/Exit Strategy

The fall brings preparation for winter: the squirrel is storing nuts, the goose is migrating southand the prudent business person is planning for his taxes.

One doesn’t expect the latter in this list, but it makes sense. When a person thinks about taxes in April, 2011 will be closed, and one cannot change the past. The transactions your taxes and your business’ taxes are based on are fixed.

There are many ways to plan for business taxes. In 2011, for instance, the opportunity most overlooked by business owners and CPAs is the very profitable sale of a business completely tax-free. Further, a serial entrepreneur can get this benefit for many start-ups for the entrepreneur’s lifetime. These results are obtained by following certain tax rules in 2011, but after December 31, this opportunity is no longer available. This is pertaining to a business sold in the future, not in 2011; 2011 is when the entrepreneur must begin planning.

This opportunity is available to a business whether it is a sole proprietorship, LLC, partnership or S Corporation.

This is not an opportunity for the simple, unsophisticated entrepreneur, but is for someone expecting to grow and make a large profit. Talk to a CPA who knows about this planning opportunity.

Justin D. Sundberg, CPA, specializes in small business taxation and can be reached at (651) 689-4789 or Justin@sundbergtc.com

Visit Schulze School of Entrepreneurship on Facebook

Our Facebook page has links to undergraduate and graduate class offerings and schedules, faculty bios and more.

For updated information about the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship, including news and upcoming events, please visit our website: http://www.stthomas.edu/business/schulzeschool/

For other UST Opus College of Business news, see B. Magazine online or the college newsroom.


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© 2011 University of St. Thomas • Opus College of Business • Schulze School of Entrepreneurship
Schulze Hall 200 • 1000 LaSalle Ave • Minneapolis, MN 55403-2005
Phone: (651) 962-4256 • E-mail: jmaamodt@stthomas.edu