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BYU team wins Utah Entrepreneurial Challenge

In fifth grade, Bret Rasmussen’s notebooks were filled with sketches of shoes, More than a decade later he’s still designing shoes, and this summer he’ll travel to China in search of a suitable factory to produce his innovative designs.

The dream started to become more of a reality this year after placing first at the Utah Entrepreneurial Challenge and winning $40,000. Rasmussen couldn’t be happier to see the designs come to life.

“I am enamored with footwear,” says the recent Brigham Young University graduate. “I’ve always been passionate about it, and I’ve followed the industry. There’s nothing quite along the lines of what we’re doing, so we thought we could capture a unique niche.”

When Rasmussen started to think seriously about starting his own shoe company last year, he recruited his brother, Chad, and a few friends who were also passionate about shoes to consider the possibilities. Working together on it, his dream started to become a reality.

The team came up with a name, Core Footwear, and a business plan which they entered in several competitions.

After competing in BYU’s Business Plan Competition, the Core Footwear group realized there was a lot they could do to improve. They started attending more trade shows, conducting more market research and visiting with industry experts.

“One thing that helped us tremendously was that we had a mentor who had a lot of personal entrepreneurial experience. His mentoring really helped to guide us,” says T Hughes, an MBA student at BYU and member of the Core Footwear team. “At the UEC we were more prepared. We knew where we wanted to go and how we wanted to present.”

Their preparations paid off at the competition entered by more than 240 teams; however, the Core Footwear group isn’t done yet. Working with a former BYU student now attending Oxford University, they will enter another competition there in an effort to keep things moving.

“It’s my dream,” Bret Rasmussen says referring to his childhood sketches. “But it’s not just mine, I think that’s why our team works. We’re all passionate about this.”

The Utah Entrepreneurial Challenge, hosted by the Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah, is open to any student attending college in Utah. The top 25 teams are chosen as semifinalists and paired with mentors. Each of these teams submits a full-length business plan.

First place and two runners up are chosen at the competition. This year, all three winning teams were from BYU.

Writer: Tyna-Minet Ernst

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