UCCS team wins 2nd place in sports-business-plan contest

October 29, 2011

A firm headed by a University of Colorado at Colorado Springs graduate has won a $10,000 second prize in a new competition launched by the school for college students who are trying to develop business plans to support sports, health and outdoor recreation companies.

DC Golf, which is trying to raise money to develop a smartphone application that allows golfers to receive instruction on the golf course, finished behind a team from Washington University in St. Louis in the UCCS Sports/Outdoors Business Plan Competition, which culminated in presentations made Oct. 22 at the U.S. Olympic Committee’s downtown Colorado Springs headquarters

Janji, a company started by the Washington University students and graduates, won the $20,000 first-place award for its plan to develop and sell running shorts that will generate donations to charitable causes.

A panel of six judges also awarded a $3,500 third prize to Sports Entertainment Gear, a company started by students from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas that is developing athletic apparel with lighting attached to protect runners at night, and gave a $1,500 fourth prize to Stride Sports, a company started by students at the University of Michigan that has developed a bicycle that is pedaled while the rider is standing.

Eight of the 16 companies that submitted plans online for the competition made presentations to the judges last week.

“Each of these teams, representing some of the best universities in the nation, were absolutely thrilled by what they experienced in our community. And each of them presented plans for a viable business that would be at home right here, right now,” said Tom Duening, director of the UCCS Center for Entrepreneurship and the El Pomar Chair of Business and Entrepreneurship at the school. “The goal of the competition was to build the buzz. In a nutshell, we wanted to say ‘Look what we’ve got. Wouldn’t you like to build your sports/outdoor venture here?’”

David Cosel, who graduated last year from the UCCS College of Business with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, and Michael Tighman, a junior in the business school, met as members of the UCCS golf team. They started their company early last year to develop the golf application and resell items such as tee times and individualized lessons.

Cosel said the company will use the $10,000 to hire software developers to complete the application, but said he needs up to $100,000 to finance that work so the application by be ready to launch by March 31.

“To be able to present our idea in the Board of Directors meeting room at the USOC headquarters was pretty amazing. It not only will jump-start by business, but also my career,” said Cosel, who recently left a job at a local information technology staffing firm to devote full time to DC Golf.

The competition was sponsored by the USOC, El Pomar Foundation, and several other companies and organizations, including Challenger Homes, which donated the first prize.

Duening said he wants to make the competition an annual event and hopes to attract more plans by expanding marketing efforts for the competition. To participate, teams of students from any U.S. two- or four-year college, university or technical institute had to submit a plan for a sports-themed business, including equipment, apparel, and fitness and nutritional products.

Winners are not required to move their businesses to the Colorado Springs area, but Duening said the competition is designed to expose student entrepreneurs to the area in hopes they might launch their companies here. The sports, health and wellness industry is a key target for local economic development efforts.

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