By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Anyone who wants to launch a new business in the Enid area has an opportunity to apply for guidance and assistance through the Cherokee Strip Business Model Competition at Autry Technology Center.
“It’s open to anybody and everybody,” said Brian Gaddy, coordinator of James Strate Center for Business Development at Autry Tech. “They don’t necessarily have to go through our training to participate.”
The competition promotes strategic planning and encourages testing and implementation of a business model. Participants are expected to prepare and present an initial business plan as an investment proposition that will attract customers and be a sound investment.
The first-place winner will receive a package valued at $15,000, including one year as a client in the business incubator, expenses except Internet included.
The second-place winner will receive $8,000, and third place will receive $5,000.
Money has to be spent on bona fide business expenses, such as rent for a shop, remodeling or technical expenses.
Steven Hughes, the second-place winner in the 2012 competition, opened Hughes Pharmacy in Medford last fall after the competition.
“I had always wanted to have my own drug store,” Hughes said. “It prepared me with all the preparation, with a business plan and everything I needed to start my business.”
Finalists will go through three rounds of judging. Melissa Jenlink, marketing director for Autry, said judging will be based on identification of a bona fide plan substantiated by customer discovery and development; presence of customer discovery that results in actions; and conclusions from the process of arriving at a “bankable” business model.
“At the point when they submit the application to us, it should be submitted with a written plan,” Gaddy said. “We hope they come to us and have us help.”
Phillip Gillham, self-employment coordinator for the James Strate Center, or Gaddy will be available to visit with anyone who wants help in preparing their application.
“The competition was created to put education into action,” Gaddy said. “Enid has a multitude of educational opportunities for business owners, and we wanted to add the motivation of a contest with significant funding up for grabs to get aspiring and new business owners to apply business concepts to their projects.
“Although it is important to have a written plan in order to get funding, it is more imperative that what is in a plan will work. We want participants to do some basic planning, but also create something that can be executed successfully to open or expand a new or current business. The funds at stake are donated by entrepreneurs and organizations interested in developing the business community. They recognize the importance of helping new entrepreneurs and the impact it has on Enid and Northwest Oklahoma.”
Participants will receive feedback and develop their plan into a model by organizing the plan into researchable segments, testing assumptions in the plan by involving potential customers, applying proven business techniques to hone details, listening to feedback and making necessary changes, and working with the plan until assumptions are proven realities.
Competition sponsors are Autry Tech, Joan and Paul Allen, Ward Petroleum, Enid Regional Development Alliance, Greater Enid Chamber of Commerce, Security National Bank and The Harris Foundation.
Applications are available at autrytech.edu. The deadline for applications is 4 p.m. May 3.