International business contest hosts 41 teams


PULLMAN, Wash. – Student entrepreneurs and future business owners showcased their budding business acumen at the annual Washington State University Business Plan Competition April 19-20. Winning teams shared cash and prizes totaling more than $150,000.


All Washington high schools were invited to submit a preliminary video and executive summary of an entrepreneurial venture. Out of 16 schools that applied, four teams were chosen to participate in the competition’€™s high school league. New this year in the undergraduate league was a popular, innovative mobile apps category, for which eight teams competed.


Tanzania team

The Simbar team from Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology, from left: Deogratius Mtemi, Jerman Rose (WSU College of Business), Jofrey Kusongwa, Ahmadi Kipacha and Edward Mwamilawa.


In all, 41 teams competed and were evaluated by a panel of 45 judges comprised of business community members, entrepreneurs from successfully launched businesses, venture capitalists, angel investors, Keiretsu Forum (an investor network) members and bankers.


“The Business Plan Competition gives students a chance to practice business in a real-world setting. Students develop a written business plan as well as an oral presentation and sell their idea to real investors,”€ said Saonee Sarker, chair of the Department of Management, Information Systems and Entrepreneurship sponsoring the event. “This is a unique opportunity for entrepreneurship majors as well as anyone interested in starting their own business.”


Global impact

Prior to the Pullman competition, teams from the College of Business’€™ international partners in Brig, Switzerland, Arusha, Tanzania and Chengdu, China held preliminary competitions judged by WSU faculty and volunteers from the college’s national board of advisors. The winning teams arrived in Pullman on April 17 to compete in the culminating event. All four of the international teams advanced to the final rounds.”This is truly a significant international event. WSU students have the opportunity to exchange ideas face to face with some of the brightest and most creative students from other countries,”€ said Jerman Rose, director of the International Business Institute. “It is great preparation for the global business world that awaits them.”€

WSU International Business Plan Competition from BCU @ WSU CVM on Vimeo.

Winning innovations
The undergraduate team “SAC”€ from César Ritz Colleges Switzerland won the overall competition with a plan for alternative, sustainable student housing. Led by Arabella Morgan, SAC is a limited liability property management company offering a modern and revolutionary answer to the scarceness of student accommodation in Geneva, Switzerland.


By 2015, 40 percent more students will be living in Geneva, increasing the need for affordable housing. On average, Swiss college students spend as much as 30-40 percent of their college budgets on housing, and eight out of 10 must live with their parents due to financial reasons, the team explained.


“This type of construction reduces the building time and cost of construction,”€ Morgan said. “Through extensive market research and the expertise of an advisory board, SAC aims to be the number one choice for students seeking accommodation in the area. We are thrilled to have been selected as the winning team.”
The team plans to contract with universities and schools as well as other businesses in Geneva and expand the model in other countries.


winning Woodinville team
The ThermaGrip team from Woodinville High School: Champions
Parker Moore and Trey Fornelius with WSU professors Joe Harris Jr.
and Saonee Sarker.

Team “ThermaGrip Technologies”€ from Woodinville, Wash., won the high school league competition with a design for a heated ski pole grip. The grip fits any pole, eliminates the need for bulky gloves and holds a battery charge for a full day of skiing.


“Skiers everywhere suffer from cold hands. By putting an electronic heating source into the grip of a ski pole, we are fixing the problem at its source without changing the skiing experience,”€ said team members Parker Moore and Trey Fornelius.


ThermaGrip entrepreneurs already have acquired two letters of intent, from retailers Play it Again Sports and Woodinville Ski and Bike, and are working to acquire letters from two other local retailers. Additionally, ThermaGrip has landed an endorsement from a professional skier. In one to three years, the team plans to expand into international ski markets in Europe and South America.


The SAC team from César Ritz Colleges Switzerland
The SAC team from César Ritz Colleges Switzerland, from left: Alex Berutt, Sabrina Cugliandro, Susi Li Zhang, Arabella Morgan, Dolunay Suess, Hogni Audunsson and Manuel Victor Gonsalves (Swiss Education Group).

Overall placings for the Business Plan Competition include:

Undergraduate League

First place: SAC
Members: Hogni Audunsson, Alex Badrutt, Elias Ei Feghali, Susi Li Zhang and Arabella Morgan, César Ritz Colleges Switzerland

Second place: Resound
Members: Dane Baird, Thanh Nguyen, Chris Routen and Ellen Simonsen, WSU College of Engineering and Architecture
Third place: Washington State Air
Members: Krista Edwards, Matthew Paauw, Gage Pepin, Bryce Poulin and David Wyrick – WSU College of Engineering and Architecture
Fourth place: Simbar
Members: Edward Mwamilawa, Deogratius Ngatunga and Jofrey Raymond, Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology, Tanzania
Fifth place: Coug Connect
Members: Matt Burton, Mackenzie Chapman, Eric Hammett and Hermie Icban Jr.,€“ WSU College of Business


High School League

First place: ThermaGrip
Members: Trey Fornelius and Parker Moore, Woodinville High School
Second place: EcoCycle
Members: Anthony Dorra Gaffari, Cooper Horton, Alex Martinez and Noah Pratt, Sammamish High School
Third place: Skull Dazzle
Member: Katie Leyde – Riverpoint Academy
Fourth Place: Leaf
Members: Samuel Lindstrom, Zoe Niska and Elisabeth Younce – Pullman Christian School


About the College of Business
The WSU College of Business is accredited across all business disciplines at the baccalaureate, masters and doctoral levels by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Faculty across disciplines produce scholarly and applied research at the main campus in Pullman as well as at urban campuses in Vancouver and the Tri-Cities. International activities include academic centers in China and Switzerland as well as thriving partnerships with several schools around the globe. Innovative online programs supplement face-to-face offerings. For more information, visit