Second try nets big rewards for business plan winners

Zack Steffen and Aaron Young are the winners of the 2012 Business Plan Competition for their idea on Stingray Speaker System.

Staff Reporter

Stingray Speaker System was the name for success at the Wichita State Center for Entrepreneurship’s sixth annual Shocker Business Plan Competition.

Aaron Young and Zack Steffen designed a plan for the system and won the competition and $10,000 to jumpstart their enterprise.

Their entry was one of 70 plans submitted. Eight advanced to the semifinals, and four advanced to the final round. The winner was announced Wednesday.

Young, a graduate student in geology and Steffen, a senior entrepreneurship major, entered the competition last year and placed second. Their product featured a life jacket with a microchip implanted inside.

“Experience helped. We thought we had a better plan this year,” Young said. “Since the chip size wasn’t small enough, we had to completely change everything.”

The duo entered the 2012 competition with greater expectations after refining their product. “We were pretty confident because we took feedback from last year and made sure we had everything together this year, and we had our prototype,” Steffen said.

Brad Perkins, a Master of Business Administration student, won the second place prize of $3,000. Perkins’ product, Motifitted (a combination of the words “motivation” and “fitness”) is a fitness motivation and social game computer application.

“It’s designed to track and record your cardio workouts,” Perkins said. “The app takes statistics gathered and compares them to other users in a fun fantasy sports-type model. I was pretty confident I would be in the top three.”

The competition does more than teach business competitiveness.

“We get accountants, judges, lawyers, investors … the list goes on,” said Danielle Hayes, director of operations and student services at the Center for Entrepreneurship. The competition gives students the opportunity to network with nearly 200 judges, ranging from accountants to investors to lawyers.

“When (students) go through this business plan competition, they have all the professional resources they need,” said David Mitchell, sponsor, judge and a certified public accountant at Mitchell & Richards.

Young said the competition helped him make professional contacts.

“The feedback from the judges and our sponsors is tremendous,” he said. “They’ll steer us in the right direction.”

Mitchell said the goal of the competition is to provide practical resources for students to achieve success.

“This competition is the chance for a student with a business idea to meet somebody who can help turn their ideas into a reality,” he said.

To find out more about Young and Steffen’s company, like “Aqua Audio” on Facebook or follow @aqua_audio on Twitter.

To find out more about Perkins’ growing business, follow @motifitted on Twitter or like his Facebook page.