Several UNM students are one step closer to realizing their small business dreams after winning a campus-wide entrepreneurship contest.

Anderson School of Management hosted its first annual Entrepreneurial Challenge on Friday. Fifteen student teams presented business ideas to a panel of judges, all of whom were local entrepreneurs.

Challenge Director Sul Kassicieh said the competition was designed for students to contribute to the local economy. He said, for the past six years, the school has offered the Technology Business Plan Competition, which supports technology business ventures. But this competition accepts a wider range of ideas.

“We feel that this country’s strength is in our ability to start new businesses,” he said. “The more we can start, the better it is for jobs and creating wealth. So it really is to help the economic development of New Mexico.”

Teams proposed businesses including a late-night dessert bar, a mobile marketing company and a drive-thru coffee shop with bikini-clad baristas.

Five student teams received cash prizes to help them start their businesses in the Albuquerque area.

Students Olena Dziuba and Robert Shaw received the first-place cash prize of $7,500 for their social networking site for amateur musicians. Steven Lang and Sam Caswell received the second-place cash prize of $5,000 for their television marketing service and third prize went to Paul Aitken for a student taxi/shuttle service.

Lang and Caswell said the competition prepared them for future business proposal presentations.

The competition was designed to give business students more hands-on experience, Kassicieh said.

“A lot of times when we go to school we tend to focus on just studying, and then maybe finding a job,” he said. “But this gave them the opportunity to take it to the next step. It really gets them to start thinking about issues that are beyond that pure idea.”

Student competitor Alex Moine, who proposed a hot dog stand for the downtown area, didn’t win a prize but said that the competition was a learning experience for him.

“I never realized how much goes into a business plan — how much time and thought,” he said.

He’s interested in making his proposal a reality.
“I’ve decided that, regardless, I’m going to find a way to get a loan and do it,” he said. “I think it would be a good idea to help myself and New Mexicans.”