Business Plan Competition finalists to square off in Perfect Pitch finale
by Mariah Oxford |
The College of Business and Public Policy Business Plan Competition is more exciting than ever, according to organizer Dr. Helena S. Wisniewski. “The finalists are outstanding. The program was just starting out when the pandemic hit, so this is the first year we will have an in-person finale.” Wisniewski, a professor of entrepreneurship and chair of UAA’s Department of Management, Marketing, Logistics and Business Analytics, has gathered a team of expert judges from Alaska to the East Coast. They will make their final decisions at Perfect Pitch, the competition finale, on Friday, April 8, at the Anchorage Petroleum Club.
Four finalists will showcase their business plans at a mini expo starting at 5 p.m., followed by live investor pitches at 5:30 p.m. Perfect Pitch is a free event. Guests are welcome to register and join in the fun as they learn about the finalists and also get to vote for the People’s Choice Award.
This year’s finalists identified specific needs in the marketplace, and their business plans reflect innovative solutions for everyday consumers. They include Alaskan Wildlings LLC of Ketchikan, Blue Collar Design LLC of Wasilla, Chinook Cabinet Doors of Anchorage, and MyCy Pack of Anchorage.
Alaskan Wildlings LLC
Owner: Ali Ginter
Business plan authors: Ali Ginter and Trixie Bennett
Alaskan Wildlings has a patent pending for a new type of cloth pocket diaper that saves parents money and provides a more comfortable and adjustable fit for babies from infancy through potty training. Ali Ginter, an Alaska Native Tlingit, was inspired to develop Alaskan Wildings when she found out she was pregnant and would soon have two young children in diapers. She learned that families could save up to $2,000 per child by using cloth diapers. “I didn’t expect to fall in love with it, but I did, and I created my own brand. We love that our diapers help babies, families and the planet.”
Ginter and her mother, Trixie Bennett, developed the business plan with a stated aim to make cloth diapers mainstream. “It’s important to me as a community and a tribal leader to create avenues for local economies,” Bennett said. “So much of what we use is bought from outside of Alaska."
Alaskan Wildings is rooted in indigenous values, including a respect for all things living, a strong commitment to corporate social responsibility and sustainable practices.
In addition to developing the business, Ginter and Bennett said they love spending time fishing, hunting, and gathering from the land.
Chinook Cabinet Doors
Owner: Atlin Bell is a UAA senior majoring in accounting.
Property managers, home improvement enthusiasts, and home sellers who want to update cabinets without replacing the entire set could find a quick solution with Chinook Cabinet Doors. “We recognize the old cabinetry still has value,” wrote Atlin Bell in his business plan. “We provide cabinet doors to customers who are looking to update their cabinetry to a modern look or simply replace a single door that was damaged in a rental property.” Bell got the inspiration for his business idea from working in property management with his father and trying to reduce the amount of waste created while doing repairs and renovations to apartment units.
“What is important to me about entrepreneurship is being able to solve problems that are unique to Alaska,” Bell said. “Everyone has a great idea, and although we are quick to dismiss ideas from students or younger generations, they can be the most creative and out of the box ideas that will provide solutions and innovations that people have not thought of before.” Bell enjoys fishing, hiking, camping, skiing, and learning about new things, which is something he finds often within accounting and property management.
Blue Collar Design LLC
Owners: Ross Spencer is a UAA student majoring in business management, who also has a B.S. in health sciences from UAA. His business partner Joe Trout also owns Uproar Graphics LLC.
Blue Collar Design will present its flagship product, the Apex LadderBox, designed to make life easier for skilled trade workers like electricians, painters and construction workers. It fits A-frame fiberglass step ladders, providing a large compartment for staging tools and materials. The original inspiration goes back to a 5th-grade project that Ross Spencer completed with his father's help. After holding several jobs in the trades and as an aircraft mechanic in the Marine Corps, he realized that having a place to keep your things when working from step ladders eliminates both unnecessary trips and dropped or broken tools. Joe Trout also saw the value in Apex LadderBox, and became a business partner, providing graphic design and marketing expertise.
"Many times, people have a creative idea that is just stuck in their head," Spencer said. "Entrepreneurship, and a good business plan, is the road map that allows such ideas to be brought to life. It’s not just about being your own boss, it’s about the passion and desire to see dreams become a reality." Outside of Blue Collar Design, both Spencer and Trout like to spend time with their friends and families and also hike, salmon fish and barbecue in the summer.
Owner: Irene Sexton is a UAA senior majoring in business management.
Using locally sourced fungi (mycelium) and forestry byproducts, MyCy Pack would manufacture a high-quality and cost-effective alternative to polymeric foam insulated shipping material. The mycelium material is fully biodegradable and can be molded into standard and custom shipping box dimensions. Irene Sexton said the idea originated from an assignment in her UAA Startup to Growth course. Students were asked to choose a patent and write a business plan around it. “As we presented our ideas, I realized that it could possibly be a real business,” Sexton said.
Along with being a full-time student, Sexton is general manager at a local phone repair company with four locations. Although her schedule is extremely busy, she found time to complete and submit a business plan.
“UAA has done a great thing in providing the students with a class that teaches a business plan, and they should hold more of these events. There are a lot of entrepreneurs here in Alaska looking for a way to start a business but don’t know where to start.” Throughout this process, Sexton learned that innovation comes from “the ability to listen, engaging with the community, having an open mind – and patience.”
How to attend
RSVP soon, as space is limited.
Judges for the 2022 CBPP Business Plan Competition are dedicated to supporting entrepreneurship, innovation and Alaska start-ups. They are:
- Jon Bittner, State Director, Alaska Small Business Development Center (AK SBDC)
- Art Clark, Co-founder, Alaska Real Estate Associates (AREA)
- Jenny Former, Executive Director, Anchorage Re:MADE
- Evelyn Jacome, Project Manager, Alaska Center ICE
- Scott Jepsen, President, Business Resource Associates
- Allan Johnston, Chief Encouragement Officer
- Gary J. Klopfer, Co-owner and Member Manager, Alaska Pacific Beverage Company LLC
- James Kostka, Chief Operating Officer and Owner, Alaskan Data Solutions
- Steve Socolof, Managing Partner, Tech Council Ventures
- Dr. Charlene Walters, Entrepreneurship Coach
- Dr. Helena S. Wisniewski, Professor of Entrepreneurship & Chair, Department of Management, Marketing, Logistics, and Business Analytics, UAA College of Business and Public Policy
- Greg Wolf, Executive Director, World Trade Center Alaska (WTCAK)
- Joel Yarmon, Founder and Managing Director, Pipeline Capital Partners
- Joe Zimmermann, Owner/Director, Cook Inlet Marketing Group Inc.
Generous sponsors for the 2022 CBPP Business Plan Competition include these donors:
- Premier Partner: Anchor Point Foundation
- Supporting Partners: Alyeska Pipeline, GCI, Northrim Bank
- Partners: Alaska Investor Network, Tom Case Leadership Fellows Academy, Educational Legacy Fund
- Sponsors: Alaskan Data Solutions, Allan Johnston, Anchorage International Rotary Club