Mandy Poole, Illinois Biodiesel
Three entrepreneurial teams, comprised of University of Illinois students, were proud winners of the 2007 V. Dale Cozad Business Plan competition social division awards. The competition was intense this year, as several teams developed and presented innovative business plans that revolved around solving social issues.
Peter Hackbert, The Academy’s visiting lecturer and business coach for Cozad commented that, “students flock to the Cozad competition because it is a way for them to channel all their creative business ideas. It’s a great turning point for their companies, and they grow the entire year leading up to the competition through workshops that we offer. It’s an amazing job to be able to coach these bright young students and to really see their ideas grow into amazing ventures that have such an impressive impact on global issues.”
SolarFlare Inc., founded by T. Patrick Walsh received $5000 to further develop and market its LED lanterns to developing countries. Walsh, a senior in engineering physics and economics can see a sizable demand for his solar powered, battery-operated lanterns. His first-hand experience working in India, through the Illinois engineers without borders student organization, has shown him just how many people in the world live without electricity. Light is something often taken for granted, but in countries like India where it is a luxury good, Walsh hopes that his lanterns can illuminate a higher quality of life for many people.
Entrepreneurs Daniel Turner, Valerie Turner, and Chris Glick received $2500 and tied for Cozad second place with the business plan for their company BetaFlash. Their business began with the mission of addressing depression and self-doubt among college students. Their “life therapy” outdoor adventure trips allow students to enjoy hiking, rock climbing, and community service, while discussing the parallel challenges and difficulties that life can bring. The outdoor atmosphere and physical tasks bring a unique perspective to students and take them out of the techno distractions they are surrounded by in modern life. Turner describes the outdoor trips as a turning-point for many students, who are looking to regroup their future goals and gain new perspectives.
The Illinois Biodiesel Initiative began with two questions, how can we save the University money and what happens to dining hall waste? Engineering entrepreneurs Mandy Poole and Joe Teng coordinate the project, and hope to see the renewable fuel in use on the Illinois campus by the end of 2007. The team took home a Cozad second prize and $2500 for their plans to fuel the Urbana campus vehicle fleet with biodiesel fuel made from dining hall vegetable oil waste. Not only does the alternative fuel significantly reduce costs, but it generates fewer emissions and achieves a high gas mileage. Poole and Teng are hoping to create a technology model that other Universities can utilize to generate biofuels on campuses all across the country.
The University of Illinois campus is home to a diverse array of new student-run social entrepreneurship companies. Every year creative entrepreneurs emerge, and the Cozad Business Plan Competition is there to proudly propel innovative products and services into a bright future.