The Apex Business Plan Competition brought fresh business ideas to campus on Jan. 24–25. Sponsored by BMO Financial Group, the competition handed out $20,000 in prizes and was organized by the International Business & Entrepreneurship Centre.
The business plan competition is designed to encourage entrepreneurship in Fredericton.
“Entrepreneurs and their start-ups are ready for the next step and to launch their careers,” said organizer Andrew Lockhart.
Lockhart has been with the Entrepreneurship Centre at UNB since 2016 after he finished his masters degree. He plays a major role in organizing the Apex competition along with the centre’s data visualization competition in November.
The Apex competition seeks the most successful business pitches put forth by teams of students. A panel of judges from diverse backgrounds decides the winners.
“This year alone we had about twenty judges, all from various industries, that provided our panel with a lot of valuable knowledge and experience,” Lockhart said.
The two-day competition featured preliminary networking opportunities, practice rounds, qualifiers and final rounds of competition.
This year, business students Jenna Evans, Aric Johnson and Elena Ascher were declared one of the winners with their pitch “Luftkuss” (“blowing kisses” in German). As Evans explained, Luftkuss is a hypothetical company of personalized lipstick in Munich, Germany, where customers could “come into the store and pick their own shade, flavour, and type of lipstick. They would also get to name their own lipstick.”
That idea beat out the competition of 25 other teams and in total about 150 participants.
“These are very healthy numbers for a business community in New Brunswick, and shows there’s an ecosystem here to support our entrepreneurs,” Lockhart said.
The competition aims to teach students how to improve their business plan and avoid idea stagnation, to get experience with real-world business individuals and to have the opportunity to network with fellow entrepreneurs and professionals.
You don’t have to be a business student to enter the Apex competition – Luftkuss was one of the only teams comprised entirely of business students. Students compete from a diverse range of faculties from engineering to arts.
“It’s really healthy for a student to get up in front of a room full of academic, private sector, and government employees all in one place,” Lockhart said.
Even if a team doesn’t place in or win the competition, students have received jobs from the connections they’ve made with professionals. Lockhart said the true purpose of the competition is to enable students to build strong connections that will help them in the future.
The Apex Business Plan Competition is looking to expand both in numbers and geographical range. This year’s competition included students from as far as Victoria, B.C. The competition also wants to expand internationally as Lockhart would like to see some schools from New England join the event.