Mines News

Release Date Friday, December 5, 2014

SD Mines launches Student Business Plan Competition

RAPID CITY, S.D. (Dec. 5, 2014) – The South Dakota School of Mines & Technology launched its own version of “Shark Tank,” hosting the first-ever Student Business Plan Competition, focusing on science and engineering with an entrepreneurial twist. Students presented real-life business plans to local business leaders, The Enterprise Institute and Entrepreneurs-in-Residence at SD Mines for the chance to win start-up money to transform their concepts into companies. Ideas ranged from an instant test to identify food-borne pathogens to portable emergency shelters.

The three winners of the competition were Vivek Agarwal with Module Innovations in first place, Mohit Bibra with Enzyme Business in second and Conrad Farnsworth with Farnsworth Downs Technology in third place. Winners received an award of $2,000 for first place, $1,000 for second place and $500 for third place.

The competition is the culmination of work begun in September, when students started drafting business plans and firming up financials. Students were then narrowed down to semi-finalists who will present their business plan to a panel of judges, who will score teams on their plan’s quality, business potential and the impact of their presentation. The competition allowed for a 10-minute presentation followed by five minutes of Q&A.

“Partnering with South Dakota business leaders, we’re giving our students a real-world opportunity to experience an important part of entrepreneurship. At Mines, we produce leaders in science and engineering, some of whom will go on to establish and build new companies and new products,” said Heather Wilson, President of the School of Mines. “Experience in innovation and bringing ideas to market starts here. I really hope several of these teams of students start their businesses before they even graduate from Mines.”    

The judges were: 

  • Nina Braun 
    • Audit Partner, Ketel Thorstenson, LLP
  • Darren Haar 
    • Entrepreneur-in-Residence at SD Mines and Chair of the Black Hills Regional Angel Fund
    • Former Global Business Director Microcircuit Materials, DuPont
  • Jim Meyer 
    • Quarq Technical Director, SRAM, LLC
  • James Quinn 
    • Managing Partner, Black Hills Business Strategies
    • Former Board of Managers, Dsultions, LLC; Board Member, Center for Business and Economics of the Northern Plains; Project Manager, Advisor and Engineer, ExxonMobil
  • Jeffrey Wehrung 
    • Director, Center for Business, Entrepreneurship and Tourism, and Assistant Professor, Black Hills State University

“This series of events gives students the opportunity to explore a possible career as an entrepreneur. In engineering and science there are a lot of students who never consider starting their own business because they have so many options when it comes to employment. However, the pathway of entrepreneurship can be a legitimate choice for those students who have the propensity. This program is designed to expose students to business plan formation,” said Joseph Wright, Associate Vice President for Research-Economic Development, Research Affairs at SD Mines.

The Enterprise Institute is a private, non-profit corporation that provides customized business development and commercialization services to entrepreneurs, inventors and start-up companies in South Dakota.


About SDSM&T

Founded in 1885, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is a science and engineering research university located in Rapid City, S.D., offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university enrolls 2,798 students from 45 states and 39 foreign countries, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1. The SD School of Mines placement rate is 98 percent, with an average early-career salary for graduates of $65,600, according to the 2014-2015 PayScale report. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/sdsmt and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sdsmt.



About South Dakota Mines  

Founded in 1885, South Dakota Mines is one of the nation’s leading engineering, science and technology universities. South Dakota Mines offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and a best-in-class education at an affordable price. The university enrolls 2,418 students with an average class size of 24. The South Dakota Mines placement rate for graduates is 97 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $68,685. For these reasons  South Dakota Mines is ranked among the best engineering schools in the country for return on investment. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on FacebookTwitter, LinkedInInstagram and Snapchat.

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