Industrial engineering students win SIUE’s ‘TheOther40’ competition

From Illinois Business Journal news services

Future business leaders and entrepreneurial hopefuls at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville pitched business plans to a panel of enterprise professionals in hopes of winning the fifth annual “TheOther40” competition.

The event resembled the TV show “Shark Tank,” in which the creators of seven businesses worked to prove the future success of their start-up.

The Entrepreneurs’ Club of SIUE hosted the competition. Since statistics show that around 60 percent of small businesses fail within the first five years, “TheOther40” seeks to foster the success of the rest.

“I believe this competition teaches students how to transform an idea into a business concept, ultimately rolling into a business plan,” said Patrick McKeehan, faculty advisor for the Entrepreneurs’ Club of SIUE and director of the SIUE Small Business Development Center.

“They have to consider their market, to whom they’re going to sell, how they’ll sell, revenue projections and more,” McKeehan added. “It’s easy to have a great business idea, but stepping through the process of what it takes to make it successful is much more challenging.”

Students’ pitched their plans to a panel of judges, including Larry Heitz, business executive and entrepreneur, and the first person to graduate with a master’s in business administration from SIUE. Jim Pennekamp, executive director of University Park at SIUE, and Tim Whitten, business counselor for Justine Petersen, completed the panel.

“You can’t put a price tag on this experience,” said Whitten. “Most people don’t understand what it takes to start a business. The students’ ideas have been impressive. They give me hope for the future.”
Winners of the 2015 “TheOther40” competition included:

– $5,000 for first place: Anilcan Akay, Alp Yetgin, Damla Gungor and Bahar Sahin, senior industrial engineering students, for BADA, a brain builder game.

– $2,500 for second place and $500 for fan favorite: Wade Berner, a senior computer management and information systems major from Marshall, Ill., for Seated, a free mobile application allowing users to check-in and book a table at local restaurants.

– $2,500 for third place: Amanda Arns, a senior business student from Quincy, Ill., for Flip Flop Trailer Drop, a mobile fitness program for children.

BADA is a two-player brain builder game aimed at helping the development of math skills and the memory of children ages seven and up. The games creators are from Turkey, and are completing the university’s dual-diploma program with Istanbul Technical University.

“We emphasized that there is a gap in the market for a brain builder game like ours,” explained Akay. “The competition was tough, but we’re excited to have taken part in this valuable experience and earned first place.”

“TheOther40” was created in 2011 by students, and is one of few student-oriented business plan competitions in the Metro East. The competition is supported by The Martinson Family Foundation.

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