by Caitlyn Starkey
Four Whitworth teams placed in the regional business competition. Thirty-eight teams from Whitworth’s School of Global Commerce & Management, Gonzaga’s Hogan Entrepreneurial Leadership Program and Eastern Washington University’s Center for Entrepreneurial Activities competed in three categories: social-enterprise, community-based and student-generated.
Whitworth graduate students Nicolle Gillie, Dennis Elrod and Kris Meng won first place in the community-based category for their cattle cooperative business plan.
Essentially the plan allows local cattle ranchers to distribute their beef to the commercial market.
“It’s basically a slaughterhouse, but that sounds bad,” Elrod said.
The process certifies the meat with the USDA grass-fed seal and allows sale into the commercial markets, including restaurants, supermarkets and other venues. The business plan of Gillie, Elrod and Meng will be implemented starting in September. The local cattle cooperative was given a 20-year low-interest loan from the federal government to finance the plan.
Before the new process, cattle were shipped across the country for slaughtering and the ranchers were only given a portion of the profit.
“By the time they’re done, there could be 16 different cows in your hamburger,” Elrod said.
Gillie, Elrod and Meng’s plan reduces stress on the cattle and creates an incentive for better conditions. Before, the ranchers were paid the same amount of money for good or poor quality beef.
Little Lamp Bites and Snacks
Senior Katie Williams placed first in the regional business competition in the student-generated categories for her business plan of Little Lamp Bites and Snacks.
Little Lamp is a mobile food cart located near a college campus; the plan used the corner of Hawthorne Road and North Division Street as an example. The cart would be open late and stocked with healthy and sustainable options.
In addition to the healthy choices, the cart would have a delivery via bicycle option. A student could order through text, online or a smart phone application.
Being a student, Williams knows how hard it is to eat healthy while studying late at night.
“It’s Jack in the Box or scrounging through your room for a granola bar,” she said.
Williams will travel abroad for a year after graduation but when she returns, she would like to implement the plan.
“My dream is to open a peanut butter and jelly restaurant,” Williams said. She explained that the shop would have multiple kinds of bread, various types of nut butter and many flavors of jam and jelly.
Williams is not a business major like her fellow participants in the competition, she is majoring in Spanish and peace studies. She initially took the class to learn about personal finance.
“Two months ago I had no idea what ROI was much less how to use it,” Williams said. “This is what I do for fun. I’m really passionate about it.”
Foothill Fresh Christmas Trees
Whitworth seniors Sean Tennis and Michael Berger placed third in the student-generated category for their plan of Foothill Fresh Christmas Trees.
The business plan is for local small table-top Christmas trees.
Tennis credits the idea to his partner Berger.
Berger put in around 200 hours of work and he put in around 100 hours, Tennis said.
The competition was time intensive and a challenge.
“I don’t think I have ever been better prepared,” he said.
Tennis said he does not normally get nervous but he was for the competition.
“It’s an honor to represent the business department,” Tennis said.
Whitworth graduate student Terri Echegoyen received third place in the community-based category for a project titled Latah Creek Hardware & Home.
Echegoyen was unable to be interviewed at the time of printing.
According to the press release, business plans were judged based on 10 criteria categories including social return on investment and feasibility.
“It was great, I learned a ton. Prize or no prize, it was a lot of fun. I would recommend it to anyone, no matter their major,” Williams said.