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Inaugural SAAS Business Plan Competition

Photo from the Seattle Academy Upper School Business Plan Competition 2022

The Seattle Academy Entrepreneurship Club held its first ever Business Plan Competition on May 3rd. This was a hackathon-style competition where students were given information pertaining to a theme at the start of the event as well as some basic requirements. The teams had two and a half hours to create a full-fledged business idea including a name, logo, marketing strategy, analysis of competitors, and a financial plan. The competition culminated in the teams delivering a seven-minute pitch to a panel of judges. The theme this year was “Reduce, Reuse, Upcycle,” and students were tasked with coming up with an idea for a business that reduces waste in some way.

Twenty-seven students were divided into five teams to compete, and all of them did an amazing job!  Each team came up with a unique idea and delivered a professional pitch in the Arts Center Theater. The judges panel included: Amelia Marckworth, Director of Community for the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center at Seattle University; Lysie Taylor, Dean of Innovations at Seattle Academy and EMBA ’21 SU; Tom Hajduk, Seattle Academy Faculty and Business Liaison; and Jonathan Corcoran, Seattle Academy Faculty.

Five teams competed for the Grand Prize and pitched the following business ideas:

Lifted: A sustainable subscription that takes your dirty and used mascara tubes, 
cleans them, and replaces the makeup product. (Lola Hurst, Eden Campbell, Maggie Johnson, Cypress McDonald, Emma Thompson, and Avery Berg)

Eco Play: A service that revitalizes playgrounds through recycled materials. This service allows for environmentally inclined organizations to not only give back to the community but also keep their playgrounds safe. (Bea Mendez, Carolina Guerrero, Julian Brown, Sophia Myint, and Teka Smith-Bates)

Peco Box: A sustainable subscription box that offers eco-friendly pet food, toys, and litter. Peco Box helps reduce the carbon pawprint of pets. (Zoe Khan
Ri’Chara Mitchell, Charlotte Dispensa, Ava Elliott, and Sam Jennings)

UComp: A service that buys compostable materials from households who do not have access to composting and repurposes the materials into an organic compost that can be sold to landscapers, farmers and plant nurseries. (Eneko Gerard, Samuel Ceballos Lewin, Kayla Hatsuye Crosby, Cass Clemons, and Jake Welton)

Green Crater: How might we find a sustainable way to address people's complaints over failing pavement infrastructure? Green Crater uses an alternative and sustainable material to fill in potholes called Ferrock. (Avery Rudin, Cooper Ayers, Tyler Stiefel, Mia Hunter, and Forrest Campbell)

The judges’ scores were incredibly close, but in the end, the winning team was “Lifted,” a sustainable mascara subscription service. The winning team members were: Lola Hurst, Eden Campbell, Maggie Johnson, Cypress McDonald, Emma Thompson, Avery Berg, all members of the class of 2023.

The competition has sparked a lot of interest in the Entrepreneurship Club, and student participants are already buzzing about how to make the competition even bigger next year.

Graphic of Seattle Academy Innovations Business Plan 2022 Winning Logo Alik M. '23

Logo designed by Alik McMahon, Class of 2023

The logo for the competition was created by Alik McMahon, Class of 2023. Alik’s design was voted the winner of the logo design competition that was held school-wide in March.

Did you know…? 

The Business Plan Competition at SAAS was an idea born out of Mariah Gentry, Innovations Teacher and Entrepreneurship Club Lead, and Innovations Head Lysie Taylor's experience in their own BPC at Seattle University as part of Lysie’s master’s degree. They received fourth place for their business Ethos.

“The whole process, from ideation to the finals, was an incredible learning journey. You have to learn by doing, and although it was a lot of work, it was always fun work! Mariah and I were inspired to start developing this event at Seattle Academy in which our students can be pushed in the same ways. There are already a number of budding student entrepreneurs here, and we want to provide a wider stage for them to share their ideas.” - Lysie Taylor, 2021, MBA

Mariah Gentry has a background in Business Plan Competitions and has been judging and mentoring teams since 2014 — presently for the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington. This year, she is teaming up with Sydney Parno, Innovations Teacher, to bring these competitions to SAAS. 

“My first BPC experiences took place at UW while I was studying in the entreprenership program,” says Sydney. “Teaching Building a Business alongside Mariah is exciting becuase she was a judge for my team back at UW. Now, I am motivated to help provide SAAS students with every opportunity I was given as an undergraduate student. A BPC is a logical next step to build out a strong entrepreneurship program at Seattle Academy.” 

After judging numerous competitions, Mariah conveys that the number one rule is to tell a story. And to do so, create a solution for a problem. BPCs are not about creating something just to create something, but creating something to solve a problem. If you do that, the business goes places.

“Competitions fuel motivation and drive,” says Mariah. “By the end of the competition, students will have created a polished slide deck and presented to a panel of judges — it’s an experience that is rarely available for upper school students. Only a handful of colleges offer a similar opportunity. It’s a chance for students to build a team, develop their entrepreneurial toolkits, and practice their presentation skills in a fast-paced environment.” 

The competitions are as much about the business idea and planning as they are about how the team pitches. Is the idea sustainable? Is the team strategic? Did the team convince the judges? 

View the May 3 Business Plan Competition Photos Here

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