WVU grad in top 10 for business plan competition
College students from all over the state entered their business plans into the West Virginia Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition in hopes of winning $10,000 for their project.
Of the 117 entrants, the field was narrowed down to 10, in two categories ﾖ Lifestyle and Innovation, and Hospitality and Tourism. Pocahontas County resident Katie Workman is one of those 10 candidates, with a business plan that she describes as ﾓa combination food services/using local foods.ﾔ
Workman entered the competition as part of a class assignment and has excelled through the process to be one of the top five in her category.
In the second round of the competition, Workman traveled to the University of Charleston and presented a two-minute ﾓelevator pitch,ﾔ and 10 eight-minute interviews with several business professionals.
ﾓI met with a variety of business owners and got a lot of really good feedback,ﾔ Workman said.
Based on the scores from the second round, the field was narrowed to the current 10 candidates. In the next step, the students will be paired with a coach and faculty advisor. They are also enrolled in an online class that assists with the business plan process.
ﾓI got really lucky [because] I entered this as a class assignment and so my teacher [Fonda Holehouse], sheﾒs kind of been a guiding force for me the whole time,ﾔ Workman said. ﾓShe had a coach [Frank DeMarco] for me up front; somebody I could talk to and get some ideas from, so heﾒs going to continue to be my coach.ﾔ
The final business plan is due March 27 and on April 13 and 14, the candidates will give their final presentations.
Although Workman is tight-lipped about her business plan, she says it involves utilizing local foods.
ﾓItﾒs going to be centered on local foods and growing the local food economy,ﾔ she said. ﾓReally giving back to the farmers.ﾔ
Win or lose, Workman plans to see the business plan turn into a business.
ﾓI hope to be open by the April, May, June area,ﾔ she said. ﾓThe Snowshoe area is where it would be based. Right now, Iﾒm tossing around ideas. Iﾒve grown up here, my dad has Appalachian Sport and Iﾒve seen the seasonality of business in this county. Really, getting that creative edge is what Iﾒm working on right now.ﾔ
Doing the competition and creating her business plan has helped Workman see the light at the end of tunnel for her business.
ﾓThey told us over and over in this competition, only 15 percent or so of businesses have an actual business plan before they go into business, so itﾒs really given me the chance to figure out if Iﾒm going to make it or not,ﾔ she said. ﾓI ran the numbers and tried to be realistic as possible, but without really getting in there and doing it, you donﾒt know what kind of business youﾒre going to get. Thatﾒs the one thing that this competition has really helped me with. Itﾒs been a great opportunity because itﾒs forcing me to think about all these things.ﾔ
For Workman, the risks are lower because her business doesnﾒt require as much start-up as most.
ﾓIf I win this $10,000, thatﾒs more or less half of my costs, a little bit more than half,ﾔ she said. ﾓItﾒs a risk, but itﾒs not a huge risk. At this point, I would feel, if I donﾒt do it, Iﾒll always have that ﾑwhat ifﾒ thought.ﾔ
With a lot on the line, Workman said she has felt some trepidation through the process.
ﾓIﾒve been nervous from the beginning. Iﾒve gotten a lot of good feedback but at the same time, itﾒs Pocahontas County and itﾒs hard to know how a business will do here,ﾔ she said. ﾓBefore I submitted my last submission and did the pitch, I was almost ready to drop out of the competition. My mom asked ﾑwhatﾒs your biggest fear,ﾒ and I was like that Iﾒm going to win and that Iﾒm going to have to do it. Iﾒve gotten past that stage and Iﾒm very nervous, but at this point, Iﾒm ready.ﾔ
While the idea of winning $10,000 is exciting, Workman is more excited about opening a her business in Pocahontas County, her county.
ﾓWorking at the farmers market this summer, Iﾒve grown my circle of contacts and people that I know,ﾔ she said. ﾓI have a pretty good working relationship with a lot of different people. The people of Pocahontas County are important to me because this is where I want to live. This is where I want to start my adult life and so to be able to do what I can to continue to grow what we already have here is important to me.ﾔ
The winner of the competition will be announced this spring.