Tacoma Entrepreneur Network hosts business competition

The Tacoma Entrepreneur Network (TEN) hosted a business plan competition on the Puget Sound campus on Thursday, Nov. 13. Eighteen teams competed for the chance to receive funding to move forward with business plans pitched at the event.

Individuals and teams worked throughout the semester to put together proposals for the November competition. Some of the businesses proposed were DIY cake kits, handmade masks, healthy meal delivery and an indoor skiing terrain park.

The business competition was one of many events hosted by TEN: College this year. TEN: College was launched by Professor Lynnette Claire in 2011 with the purpose of supporting and encouraging students seeking entrepreneurial careers.

“Because entrepreneurship will likely be a part of most people’s lives, I want to give students the opportunity to engage with entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs in college. Try it out,” Claire said. “The business competition and TEN offer opportunities to do that.”

TEN: College connects students from colleges throughout Washington and helps students network with other students and professionals.

The TEN: College network also includes Evergreen College, Pacific Lutheran University and UW Tacoma. It is especially accessible to Puget Sound students because Claire is a professor on campus and many events are held at or around the campus.

The business competition was initially going to take place next year in congruence with Claire’s entrepreneurship class, but students involved with TEN helped organize the event and found ways to streamline the process. Materials were posted online and there were information nights throughout the semester, enabling students to get involved even though the entrepreneurship course was not offered this semester.

The competition gave students real-world experience to build upon what is normally only studied in class.

“For students who are going to become entrepreneurs, putting together a business plan and facing judges’ questions helps students think through what would really be involved in starting a business,” Claire said.

The competition also connected entrepreneurs with students through the judging process. Judges read business plans written by the teams and interacted with the teams the night of the event. They judged on criteria such as feasibility, innovation and growth potential. They also looked for best financial outcomes, best environmental outcomes and best societal outcomes.

Winning projects at the competition were Sprout Organics, Sports Social, ODAS Sock Company, Carbon Comics, DIY Cakes and Terra Lumen Candles.

DIY Cakes and Carbon Comics were both made up of Puget Sound students.

Seniors Emmy Masangcay and Shelby Senaga created DIY Cakes. The vision is a shop where customers choose various aspects of cake from the cake itself to frosting and then decorate it themselves.

Carbon Comics is the creation of seniors David Leslie and Alec MacCallum. Their goal is to provide children who do not have access to comic books with the refuge and hope of superheroes.

Winners received prize money and will be invited to a Moving Forward dinner in order to help see their vision become a reality.

For students who are thinking of going into business, TEN provides a great opportunity to see what their future could be. Though learning lessons in the classroom is valuable, this competition allowed students to practice business skills in a no-risk situation.

“Writing a business plan is a good idea for any business as it allows you to make your mistakes on paper, rather than in reality,” Claire said.