The presentations were impressive and the competition was keen at the first annual Florida Collegiate Business Plan Competition held October 27 and 28, 2006, at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando, Florida.
Alexis Nogueras (MBA ’06)
But when a panel of judges heard College of Business Administration graduate Alexis Nogueras (MBA ’06) present his plan for ergonomically designed lawn and garden tools, they were sold—and named Nogueras and his company, G-Force Tools, a winner.
Sponsored by the Eugenio Pino and Family Global Entrepreneurship Center, Nogueras beat teams from five other universities in the competition’s limited investment track. In May of this year, Nogueras was named graduate-level winner in the center’s 2006 Howard J. Leonhardt New Venture Challenge.
Solid market research and working prototypes drive winning plan.
When Nogeuras first conceived the idea of G-Force tools, his research indicated that a large number of recreational gardeners are grooming flower and vegetable gardens—with no ergonomic tools on the market for them to buy.
“I believe my professionally built prototypes of a shovel and rake gave me an edge over the competition,” Nogueras said. “This showed the judges that the idea was tangible and likely to succeed.”
Joyce J. Elam, executive dean of the college, praised the G-Force Tools business plan.
“The idea is simple to explain, very well researched, and already in the implementation phase,” she said. “Judges saw a product consumers can readily understand and are likely to purchase.”
Speaking as one of the judges of the inaugural statewide event, Noel J. Guillama, president and chief executive of The Quantum Group, Inc., a South Florida-based business that delivers health care solutions, said that the decision was unanimous to name G-Force Tools the winner.
“Nogueras’ presentation was passionate and convincing. I believe his product has a real opportunity to be delivered into the marketplace,” he said.
Alexis Nogueras (MBA ’06)
Guillama, who also has served three times as a New Venture Challenge judge, offered positive feedback about the structure of the competition itself.
“The judges found the luncheon that followed the business plan competition extremely valuable,” he said. “It gave us a chance to engage directly with the presenters and to share our thoughts, reactions, and recommendations with them in a more open, informal setting.”
Competition strengthens entrepreneurial connections.
According to Alan Carsrud, executive director of the Pino Center, one of the college’s major goals is to teach and spread an entrepreneurial culture across all majors.
“Wins such as Nogueras’ validate the work and research we do on entrepreneurship,” Carsrud said. “It is about combining creativity and business know-how, and he offers a great example.”
The business plan competition provided a unique opportunity for the Pino Center to participate in forward-thinking discussions on entrepreneurship in Florida.
“The competition gave people from each of the schools that organized it the chance to sit down together and talk about entrepreneurship as a whole—and how it’s growing as an academic discipline,” said Colleen Post, associate director of the Pino Center. “Our discussions added to the value of the event.”
In addition to the Pino Center, the organizing committee for the statewide competition included representatives from the entrepreneurship centers at six other Florida schools: Rollins College, the University of Central Florida, the University of Florida, the University of Miami, the University of South Florida, and the University of Tampa.
For more information about the college’s Pino Center and its activities, visit: http://www.entrepreneurship.fiu.edu/.