Special to the Journal

Ouachita Baptist University’s Hickingbotham School of Business hosted its annual Business Plan Competition on Dec. 6. Chandler Blake, a senior finance and business administration major from Frisco, Texas, and Chris Clark, a senior finance and business administration major from Arkadelphia, placed first in the competition with their business, WinterTerm.com, and received a $4,000 cash prize. Blake and Clark were advised by Bryan McKinney, dean of the Hickingbotham School of Business.

Blake and Clark’s business is designed to help college students find winter term courses to complete hours necessary for them to graduate. Their website includes a database of winter courses from colleges around the nation.

“This idea has been on our minds for several years now,” Blake said. “We began talking with our advisor, Dean McKinney, a couple years ago, and he expressed that he saw a need for a service like this. After talking about it and asking if we as students thought it was a good idea, we realized how much this would help students across the country.”

Lil’ E’s Cupcakes earned second place in the competition, and My401k earned third place. The top three teams will advance to compete against Henderson State University’s top three teams at the OBU/HSU Business Plan Competition on Feb. 12.

Lil’ E’s Cupcakes was presented by Braden Lunday, a senior finance and accounting major from Sheridan, Ark.; he was advised by Dr. Jim Files, associate professor of accounting. His business is centered around a self-serve cupcake bakery featuring a robot programmed to perfectly ice the cakes. Lunday received a cash prize of $3,000.

“My fiancée came up with the idea,” Lunday explained. “She mentioned cupcake retail stores needed to provide a self-serve concept for icing cupcakes. I called my cousin, a mechanical engineer, and we decided to design a robot prototype that dispensed the customers’ choice of icing.”

My401k was presented by Chandler Ferrell, a senior finance major from White Hall;  Ancil Lea, a senior finance major from Conway; Matthew Phillips, a senior finance and computer science major from Piperton, Tennessee; and Emma Shortes, a junior accounting and finance major from Fort Smith. Dr. Chris Brune, associate professor of finance and holder of the George Young Chair of Business, advised the team, which received a $2,000 cash prize. Their business will help people choose the funds to invest in for their 401(k)s to match the level of risk they prefer. Dr. Brune wanted to pursue this idea after realizing people did not understand what funds were included in their retirement accounts. He invited Ferrell, Lea, Phillips and Shortes to further develop the idea for the competition.

Students of all majors are encouraged to participate in the competition to gain real-world insights into entrepreneurship. The judges at the competition give helpful encouragement and critique to each presenting team.

“I think this business plan competition is one of the best things we do, honestly,” McKinney noted. “Students have a chance to take what they are learning in the classroom and apply that knowledge in a real-world environment. When we started this competition nine years ago, we did it with the intention of encouraging a spirit of entrepreneurship across campus.”

For more information, contact Bryan McKinney at mckinneyb@obu.edu.