The Wildcat Theater turned into a financial shark tank for five teams of Weber State University students on Jan. 29.
The competition was Opportunity Quest. The idea behind the competition was for students to get together and pitch business ideas or talk about a business they already have in progress in order to impress a panel of judges.
In the final round of competition, the teams were given ten minutes to explain and advertise their business plan and goals for the future to the five judges.
Afterwards, the judges were given five minutes to ask questions about the businesses.
This competition was sponsored by Zions Bank, who each year awards money to colleges all over Utah to host these Opportunity Quests. The first place winner from each school will be automatically entered into another competition held later in the semester.
The five judges of this competition were Cory Gardiner of Zions Bank, Terry Grant of KeyBank, Alan E. Hall of Tempus Global Data, Joshua Irvine of Irvine Legal and Spencer Young Jr. of Young Auto Group.
“The future [of business] is just exposure,” Young said, “because a lot of people don’t get that kind of exposure.”
Dallin Niederhauser and Taylor Coombs, currently juniors at WSU, showcased their business VonButton. VonButton is men’s fashion and will sell fashionable tie bars and cufflinks.
Alan Vogel and Robert Vogel of Recreation Valley were next, presenting a company that ships outdoor products. The two proposed that they would deliver faster than their competitors.
The two are brothers who have been working together with 30 years of experience. Alan Vogel is currently a sophomore at WSU.
Next to present was Matt Lechtenerg of Vitalized Homes, LLC. Lechtenerg has a home renovation company that also does property maintenance.
Lechtenerg said that his company is adaptable to customers and that there is a network of people to help with the workload.
Amy Hirschi, WSU senior, brought her photography and web design company to the table, Waverley Design Co.
Hirschi told judges that her company will be a one-stop shop for her clients. Hirschi initially began advertising on social media and Etsy in order to attract her clientele.
The last to present were Lucas Fawson and Brandon Dickerson. Their company, Kangaroo Sacks, offers a uniquely designed bag. Fawson and Dickerson told judges that they have had sales on Etsy, Amazon and locally in Ogden.
Brandon Saxton, a junior at WSU, gave a speech after the presentations about his experience with the competition last year. Saxton was the winner of Opportunity Quest the previous year.
The Vogel brothers came in third place with their company Recreation Valley. The pair was awarded $2000 toward their business.
Kangaroo Sacks, by Fawson and Dickerson, earned second place in the competition and walked away with a prize of $3000.
“It was one of the most competitive years,” Dave Noack, director of the Hall Global Entrepreneurship Center, said. “And it was a really tough decision.”
Hirschi was ultimately awarded first place for Waverley Design Co. and was awarded $5000 toward her business and was automatically entered into a bigger competition, with a grand prize of $40,000, which will take place at the University of Utah later in the semester.
“I’m really ecstatic–I feel really good about it,” Hirschi said. “All the ideas were so unique, and I was worried up ’til they said my name.”
Hirschi said she plans to take the judge’s feedback and begin more work on her business.
“Get involved,” Hirschi said. “There are a lot of opportunities out there.”
Noack said that the biggest hurdle that most people face is starting.
“Get out of the classroom and get started,” Noack said. “We will help you along the way.”
For information about upcoming competitions or the entrepreneurship minor at WSU, visit their website.