Your Future Starts Here
Check out the winners of our quarterly Business Plan Contest. Click here to learn how to enter the next quarterly contest.
incorporate.com's Business Plan Contest encourages young entrepreneurs to grow their ideas into start-up and early-stage businesses. Rathod's winning plan outlines the model behind FreshSpire, a social business that uses mobile notifications to reduce grocery store food waste and bring new efficiencies to the food distribution process.
A resident of Charlotte, North Carolina, Rathod was a senior in high school when she became concerned about the amount of safe and nutritious food that is sent to landfills on a daily basis simply because it has reached its "expiration" date. "I noticed this problem in my community and came up with FreshSpire to discourage food waste and encourage customers to purchase healthier produce at a lower cost," she says.
As conceived, the FreshSpire mobile app notifies consumers of discounted and near-expiring foods at local grocery stores and provides them with a newsfeed of store discounts. FreshSpire promotes the availability of nutritious produce to budget-conscious consumers, diminishes the amount of food destined for landfills, and reduces the lost profits grocers face when fresh food inventories are not sold prior to expiration.
Now a freshman at North Carolina State University, Rathod and her colleagues have researched the local and national concerns associated with food waste, including the cost of food production, access to healthy foods, and landfills that are nearing capacity, all against the backdrop of the challenge of feeding billions worldwide.
According to a March 2015 report from the Waste and Resources Action Program, a UK-based organization, each year roughly 60 million metric tons of food are wasted in the U.S., with an estimated value of $162 billion. More than half of that amount ends up in landfills, at a cost of about $1.5 billion a year to local governments, where it decays and produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
Says Rathod, "FreshSpire not only capitalizes on the need to counteract the astounding impacts that food waste imposes on the environment, but it also fits into this new age of technology by utilizing the popularity of mobile applications. It will attract customers to local stores in the network, encourage them to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, and reduce the amount of expired food the store is forced to dispose of."
The FreshSpire application is in the prototype phase and Rathod and her partners are in contact with developers. They hope to secure from investors the $75,000 required to develop and launch the application.
"The research, foresight, and level of detail behind Rathod's business plan really impressed incorporate.com's judges," said David Gilardi, general manager of incorporate.com. "Not only is FreshSpire a well thought-out and very marketable application, it's one that stands to make a huge impact–socially, environmentally, and commercially."
incorporate.com will award Rathod $1,000 for her winning plan.
Past Business Plan Contest Winners – 2014
Third Quarter Winner – Brittney Bailey
incorporate.com®, the nation's leader in helping small businesses incorporate and form limited liability companies (LLCs), is pleased to introduce Brittney Bailey, winner of its most recent Business Plan Contest.
incorporate.com's Business Plan Contest encourages young entrepreneurs to grow their ideas into start-up and early-stage businesses. Bailey's winning plan outlines the business model behind The Salty Dog, Canine Swim and Fitness LLC, a canine massage and hydrotherapy company.
"My goal with The Salty Dog is to help dogs of all ages and abilities live happier, healthier lives," says Bailey. "Whether a dog is recovering from injury, suffering from arthritis, needs to shed a few pounds, or is just trying to stay active, The Salty Dog can help."
Born and raised in Valencia, CA, Bailey developed an early interest in art and animation and earned her BA in art and communications from California Lutheran University. While working as a production manager for an animation studio she discovered The Total Dog, a canine swim and fitness center in Oceanside, CA.
Bailey began volunteering on weekends at The Total Dog, and "immediately fell in love" with the facility's hands-on approach to canine rehabilitation. "I discovered my true calling," she says.
Bailey is a graduate of the Small Animal Massage Certificate program from the Ojai School of Massage, where she received more than 100 hours of instruction in small animal anatomy, behavior, handling and management, massage techniques, CPR, first aid and ethics.
Currently The Salty Dog specializes in at-home care but Bailey expects the company will open its own facility in spring 2015. "Helping animals has always been a passion of mine and I cannot wait to open this facility and make my dream into an everyday reality," she says.
"Brittney's business plan really impressed incorporate.com's judges," said David Gilardi, general manager of incorporate.com. "All the pieces for a successful start-up were well represented, along with one of the most important, yet often overlooked, ingredients-passion."
incorporate.com awarded Bailey $1,000 for her winning plan.
Second Quarter Winner – Kevin Stumpf
incorporate.com's Business Plan Contest encourages young entrepreneurs to grow their ideas into start-up and early-stage businesses. Stumpf and Balance's award-winning plan outlines the business model behind Dispatcher, a mobile-enabled platform that connects long-haul truckers to freight-shipping businesses.
The Dispatcher app enables truckers to dispatch and track shipments on their mobile phones. It's currently in beta testing with a number of customers and drivers, and Stumpf and Balance say they plan to expand service to even more drivers and businesses soon.
"It's like Uber for long-haul trucking," says Stumpf, referring to the popular smartphone application that connects passengers to drivers-for-hire. "Dispatcher gives freight businesses the opportunity to become the preferred, fully automated broker for owner-operated truck drivers."
Stumpf, who is co-founder and CTO of Dispatcher, was born in Germany and began developing software as a child. He has worked as an independent developer in various industries, across web, mobile, and desktop software. Stumpf is an MBA student at Stanford, and is eagerly applying his love for technology and building companies to solve massive inefficiencies in old-world industries.
Dispatcher co-founder and CEO AJ Balance grew up in Chicago and graduated from Stanford in 2009. He worked in corporate strategy at Disney before following his passion for building companies to San Francisco, where he became sole product manager at Gigwalk, a six-person mobile crowdsourcing startup. Like Stumpf, Balance is a Stanford MBA student.
"Kevin and AJ's business plan really impressed incorporate.com's judges," said David Gilardi, general manager of incorporate.com. "They've produced a detailed blueprint for a technological solution that fills a significant yet untapped marketplace demand. The sky's the limit for them, in terms of business potential."
incorporate.com awarded Stumpf and Balance $1,000 for their winning plan.
First Quarter Winner – Shannon Schmelzer
incorporate.com congratulates Shannon Schmelzer – the most recent winner of our Business Plan Contest.
As the U.S. gears up to celebrate National Small Business Week, incorporate.com®, the nation's leader in helping small businesses incorporate and form limited liability companies (LLCs), is pleased to introduce Shannon Schmelzer, winner of its most recent Business Plan Contest.
incorporate.com's Business Plan Contest encourages young entrepreneurs to grow their ideas into start-up and early-stage businesses. Schmelzer's winning plan outlines the concept behind Shannon's Unshelled, a takeout lobster "shack" in the works for her hometown of Boothbay Harbor, Maine.
From its detailed mission statement and business philosophy down to specifics on signage, lighting, and food service, Schmelzer's plan offers a level of detail that is the hallmark of many profitable startups. "Shannon's initiative really impressed incorporate.com's judges," said David Gilardi, general manager of incorporate.com. "Her business plan is thorough and well thought out. We see no barriers to her business success."
Lobster is a major driver of the Maine economy. In 2013, landings of the succulent shellfish exceeded 125 million pounds and brought more than $364 million in dockside sales, according to The Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative. Maine's annual lobster haul supports nearly 6,000 licensed lobster harvesters, along with an impressive network of processing companies, wholesalers, marine outfitters, retail stores and restaurants.
Shannon's Unshelled will focus its menu on lobster rolls made with only fresh, locally sourced meat. According to Schmelzer's business plan, customers will enjoy "a fresh, quality lobster roll with a minimum wait time and a gratifying experience… [that] will surely bring a great reputation to Boothbay Harbor."
A lifelong Maine resident, Schmelzer graduated from the University of Maine at Machias with a Bachelor's Degree in Community Studies and Psychology. After living abroad for two years, she decided to buy a home in Boothbay Harbor. Now, at 27, she owns her own business.
"I want to distinguish myself, and in order to do that you have to take risks," Schmelzer said.
Her motives for opening the business aren't entirely "shellfish," though.
"My goal is to offer other young entrepreneurs what my family and other support systems, including incorporate.com, have offered me-the opportunity to succeed," says Schmelzer. One of her future goals is to create a grant program that helps young entrepreneurs build business futures in their communities.
incorporate.com awarded Schmelzer $1,000 for her winning plan.
Past Business Plan Contest Winners – 2013
Fourth Quarter Winner – Neter Kush Ben Alkebulan
incorporate.com is pleased to recognize the hard work and ingenuity of Neter Kush Ben Alkebulan, winner of its most recent Business Plan Contest.
Alkebulan, co-founder of the Fresh Start Beverage Company, entered a winning business plan for a product called Banana Wave, a banana-based, non-dairy beverage with "heart-healthy ingredients, sufficient protein and fiber, and … more potassium than most alternative milk beverages." (For more on the product, visit here)
The inspiration for Banana Wave came from a recipe Alkebulan says was handed down by his African ancestors. He created a prototype of the so-called "super food" in his aunt's kitchen in Mobile, Alabama.
According to data compiled by the market research firm Mintel Group Ltd., alternatives to cow's milk, such as almond milk, soy milk and other nutrient-dense beverages with a milk-like consistency, accounted for 7.3% of the total U.S. dairy and non-dairy milk market in 2013. This shift is reflective of a more than 30% rise in market share since 2010. In the same study, Mintel predicted that dairy alternatives would continue to grow through 2017, rising to nearly $2.9 billion in annual sales.
"With the soaring popularity of plant-based alternatives to dairy milk, we felt that Neter Kush Ben Alkebulan's business plan for Banana Wave was persuasive, well-timed, and descriptive of a highly marketable product," said David Gilardi, general manager of incorporate.com. "We wish him every success as he sets out on this important journey."
Alkebulan is a certified personal trainer and sports nutritionist. He holds an associate's degree in business administration from Vance-Granville Community College in Henderson, North Carolina. He is currently working toward his B.S. degree in marketing at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens, Florida. Alkebulan is a founding member of Innovative Product Solutions LLC (IPS) and recently won a scholarship from the Tom Joyner Foundation (in partnership with Denny's restaurants) for his 500-word essay on fighting childhood hunger.
Alkebulan says his business mission is to "make humanity healthy, happy and stronger one refrigerator at a time, by providing quality fruit, plant, and non-dairy beverages to the world."
For his winning plan, incorporate.com has awarded Alkebulan $1,000.
Third Quarter Winner – Tony Beaman
incorporate.com is pleased to honor the insight and creativity of U.S. military veteran Tony Beaman, winner of its most recent Business Plan Contest. Beaman's winning business plan executive summary described ElitePrep U, a veteran-owned nonprofit company dedicated to training, mentoring, and educating U.S. veterans through direct contact with successful entrepreneurs, business leaders, and corporate managers and executives.
Beaman says his aspiration for ElitePrep U is to "become a partner and leader with other individuals, corporations and veterans groups in an effort to help veterans develop skills and strong leadership and entrepreneurship mindsets."" ElitePrep U participants would receive expert career counseling along with training on presentation skills, interview preparation, résumé assistance and professional profile development.
A veteran of the U.S. Army National Guard, Beaman is president and founder of Millennium Franchise Group and Fran4Vets (Franchising For Veterans), a certified veteran-owned small business through the Veterans Administration. He holds an MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management and a BA in advertising/public relations journalism from the University of Arkansas.
For his winning plan, incorporate.com has awarded Beaman $1,000.
Second Quarter Winner – Joseph Sheahan
incorporate.com is thrilled to recognize the work of Joseph Sheahan, winner of our most recent Business Plan Contest. Sheahan's winning executive summary describes a business called savvo digital sommelier solutions™, an electronic companion that helps everyday shoppers find, buy, and share wines they'll love. incorporate.com's panel of judges was impressed by both the spirit of innovation behind Sheahan's plan and the marketplace need that savvo clearly fills.
"I am an entrepreneur at heart, despite how long it took me to realize it," says Sheahan, who began his career in restaurant management. During an entrepreneurship class at MBA school, Sheahan struck on a new concept. "My original idea was that if I could create an easy, fun, and effective way for people to learn about wine, everyone would line up to pay for it!" he says. "We determined that a 'Digital Sommelier' would be the perfect solution help shoppers find the right wine for them, and at the same time would offer a valuable service to the retailer and help wine companies find their new best customers."
For his winning plan, incorporate.com awarded Joseph Sheahan $1,000.
Second Quarter Runner Up – Mecca Bey
Given our love of small businesses, incorporate.com's judges just couldn't overlook the great idea behind Locate a Small Business. Founded by Philadelphia native Mecca Bey, the website offers a convenient platform for consumers to find, connect with, and support their local business community.
"Locate A Small Business is committed to supporting small businesses, both locally and nationwide," says Bey. "By connecting consumers with businesses ready to meet their needs and vice versa, everyone wins, especially in our struggling local economies."
Bey, a Penn graduate, self-described 'social media power user,' and mother of four, launched her first business in 1996 on Philadelphia's bustling South Street. She has since magnified her experience by assisting small business owners through online networking. To date, Locate a Small Business has signed up more than 1,000 small business owners seeking to connect with consumers. The mobile app version of the site will launch soon.
For her business plan, incorporate.com awarded Mecca Bey $500.
First Quarter Winner – Pearl Somboonsong
incorporate.com is pleased to announce that Cornell University junior Pearl Somboonsong, 21, is the winner of our first-ever Business Plan Contest. Her winning executive summary describes a business called InPlace, an "aging in place" solution that would enable seniors to stay at home, in a familiar residential setting, by using their home equity to pay for affordable home health care services. incorporate.com's panel of judges was impressed by the thoughtfulness and commercial potential of Somboonsong's plan.
An internship last summer with Brookdale Senior Living, in Pennsylvania, informed the details of Somboonsong's proposal. The hands-on experience "cultivated my interest in the senior living industry and gave me key insights while developing the InPlace business plan," she says.
Originally from Radnor, Pennsylvania, Somboonsong is no stranger to entrepreneurship. This summer, her family expects to open its seventh restaurant in the greater Philadelphia area. "Growing up with parents who are restaurateurs, I have developed a passion for the hospitality industry and love the excitement of expanding a family business," she says.
In 2010, Somboonsong founded Focus, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating educational opportunities that help students in underdeveloped regions of northern Thailand attain self-sufficiency. The enterprise drew praise from U.S. News & World Report and to date remains "the most meaningful achievement I have had the privilege of leading," Somboonsong says. Though her studies at Cornell take up most of her time now, she still manages to travel to Thailand each summer to visit the school and its students.
Beyond her academic goals, Somboonsong says her immediate plans include expanding her family's restaurant group "while also learning more about the senior living industry and its growth potential."
Please join us in congratulating Pearl Somboonsong, winner of our Business Plan Contest!
Interested in entering the next quarterly contest? Click here to read more about it.