Contest offers student business owners financial, legal help

Aspiring student entrepreneurs may get a big break in May – the opportunity to launch their own business in central Florida.

The Center for Entrepreneurship (CFE), which is part of the College of Business Administration (COBA), will hold its second annual “Fintech Business Plan Competition” to provide help to student-originated businesses.

“We want students to launch their companies,” said Sean Lux, an assistant professor in COBA and CFE. “This competition is a very rare and fantastic opportunity for students to own their own business.”

Students competing must own a business that is in its early stages and is in need of additional funding and legal counsel, which the competition will provide.

Eligibility will be based on student submissions, which must include three copies of a business plan, an executive summary and articles of incorporation – paperwork submitted to the state to verify the legitimacy of a business.

Submissions – which must include a CD and a print version – are due to CFE by May 5.

The competition will feature two rounds of judging, said Michael Fountain, director of CFE. In the first round, judges – business professionals in the community – will verify that each business proposal has met all of the submission criteria.

The top eight plans will then be selected to continue to the final round of judging May 14, when a winner will be announced, he said.

USF faculty members plan to help coach and mentor the finalists, but they will not be involved in the judging process, Fountain said.

All competition expenses, including cash prizes awarded to the top three winners, will be funded by Fintech, which allows companies to pay for their alcohol distributors eleCtronically. The first place winner will receive $7,500, second place $5,000 and third place $2,500.

Fountain said the student with the winning business model will be able to use office space and utilities located on a USF campus free of charge.

“The only expense the students have is the time and effort it takes to write the business plan,” Fountain said.