Alianza, a company that offers reduced telephone rates to Mexican residents by routing calls through the Internet, was named winner of Brigham Young University's 2005 Business Plan Competition.
Brian Beutler, CEO of Alianza, and Scott Bell, CTO of Alianza, accepted the $50,000 award of cash and in-kind services at the BPC finals April 1. Additionally, Alianza received the $9,000 Global Award prize from BYU's Center for Entrepreneurship and Global Management Center at the Marriott School of Management.
Beutler, a history major from Orem, Utah, and Bell, an accounting major from Orem, Utah, started the company last summer. "It has been a very exciting and rewarding process for us," Beutler says. "The feedback we've received during the three rounds of judging has validated our business model and provided valuable advice."
More than 800 students and community members filled the Joseph Smith Building's auditorium to watch the finalists' presentations. PICS Auditing earned second place and $30,000 in cash and in-kind services. PICS supplies businesses with information they need to hire contractors who meet government and industry safety standards.
Informera took third and earned $20,000 in cash and in-kind services. It offers advertisers access to audiences in restaurant waiting areas through plasma televisions that display waiting lists, sports updates, news stories, trivia, and restaurant features.
Jonathon Coons, founder of 1-800-CONTACTS and a former BPC winner, attended the event and presented the awards. "This competition forces participants to put their ideas into a plan," he said. "It's a great experience for all entrants; they're more likely to do something with their ideas once they're on paper."
Of the 65 business plans entered from students representing 20 majors, 10 businesses were chosen to present their plans to judges in the semi-finals. The top three businesses presented at the final event on April 1. Numerous entrepreneurs, angel investors, venture capitalists, accountants, lawyers, and partners from private equity firms volunteered to judge the event's three stages.
"There's an excitement and energy you feel from the students in the presentation," remarked John Simcox, a BPC judge and chair of the Entrepreneur Founders Board of Directors. "The quality of the presentations and plans continue to amaze us. It's exciting to see the success the students take from this experience into the world."
The BYU Business Plan Competition has a proven track record for discovering talent. The competition has helped jumpstart a number of successful companies including Open Air Cinema, uSight and Property Solutions, LLC.
The Center for Entrepreneurship and the BPC have aided BYU in creating one of the best programs in the nation for entrepreneurs. In 2003, Entrepreneur magazine listed BYU as one of the top regional programs in the nation. The 2003 BPC winner went on to win Fortune Small Business magazine's first nationwide business plan competition, beating out more than 50 entrants from 49 of the top 50 business schools in the nation.
Writer: Emily Smurthwaite