Business plan competition draws 32 teams

Youthful optimism met the cold, hard, real world of business head on at the Wes Nicol Business Plan Competition, which attracts the brightest entrepreneurial talent on campus. With only 15 minutes to communicate the merits of their venture, three teams of students competed for top honours in front of a five-judge panel.

This year, the competition drew 32 teams and over 70 competitors.

“This competition allows our students to showcase their business acumen and demonstrates, yet again, why Carleton is a leading institution for up and coming entrepreneurs,” says John Callahan, competition co-ordinator and an associate professor at the Sprott School of Business. He adds: “This is an extremely tough competition and the three finalists have already beaten out 29 other teams to make the finals.”

Bruce Firestone, entrepreneur and educator, served as Master of Ceremonies at the final competition. Well-known in Ottawa as the founder of the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club and the Corel Centre, he is a driving force behind the development of entrepreneurship education at Sprott.

The business plans were as diverse as the competitors themselves. One proposal offered one-to-one English language training for foreign students. iDash is interested in producing stand-alone wireless entertainment and work stations for installation in cars. Their technology would facilitate seamless transfer of files from home PCs to your smart car. Ellistar won first prize for their automobile detection system engineered to prevent vehicle-related deaths.

Mentors from the Ottawa business community assisted the young entrepreneurs throughout the entire process. “These mentors help the students gain valuable, real life experience putting together sound business plans, defending their analyses, and learning how to raise capital. So even the students who don’t win this competition, win,” says Callahan.

The competition is funded by graduate Wes Nicol, B.A./54. The Ottawa lawyer and long-time business executive invested $220,000 to endow a permanent awards program for student entrepreneurs in the Sprott School of Business. The competition is designed to help full-time students turn their business ideas into reality. At least half of the team members must be full-time Carleton University students.

The Eric Sprott School of Business was recently named one of the top 10 business research schools in Canada by a study conducted at the University of Alberta. The Sprott School is known for its multidisciplinary approach to education and research.

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