ACU's Springboard Ideas Challenge works to develop entrepreneurial spirit of Abilene

Posted March 31, 2010

The third annual Springboard Ideas Challenge hosted by ACU's College of Business Administration is under way. More than 120 business ideas have been submitted, with approximately 55% coming from local college students and 45% from the Abilene community.

"To think that there are more than 120 ideas for new business ventures floating around Abilene today - that's amazing," says Kevin Christian, director of entrepreneurship programs. "It's the entrepreneurial spirit that will bring our country out of this recession, and this spirit is alive in our city."

Springboard is a mini-business plan competition allowing individuals from the Abilene community and its universities to organize, direct and present a business idea to a panel of judges.

Local companies Mark Horn Enterprises Inc. and Bixby Enterprises recently gave a $72,000 in-kind gift of commercial rental credit to be split between the top three winners. Additional sponsors of the competition include the West Central Texas Workforce Development Board, the Development Corporation of Abilene and the Texas Tech Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

The competition, created by Jim Porter, ACU's entrepreneur in residence, is coordinated by Christian and a committee of students, faculty and staff. In its first two years, Springboard awarded $25,000 and $40,000 respectively in prize money to students, faculty and community members.

This year, Springboard will award more than $125,000 in cash and prizes to assist local entrepreneurs in the start-up process.

"The goal of the competition is to encourage and invest in the entrepreneurial spirit among our students and across the community," says Christian.

Springboard participants begin the competition by submitting their initial business plan ideas for a $10 entry fee, the only expense to enter the competition. Four business plan boot camps held at McMurry University, ACU and the SBDC are offered to participants, which includes an orientation session about the competition and judging criteria as well as focused coaching on individual plans from business entrepreneurs at ACU and the SBDC.

The SpringBoard Ideas Challenge awards dinner will be held April 24, at 6 p.m., in the Hunter Welcome Center. Posters highlighting this year's ideas will be displayed prior to the dinner.  The awards ceremony is open to the public, and tickets are $15. 

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