Editor’s Note: This is the first profile in a series on students and recent alumni who are part of the UNM Business Plan Competition. Continue to stay updated with the Daily Lobo for more information.

Over 20 teams from the University of New Mexico, Central New Mexico Community College and New Mexico State University will compete in the 2018 UNM Business Plan Competition on April 20.

The competition has roots dating back to 2005 and aims to help teams of college students and recent alumni test their startup business ideas by writing a business plan and presenting it to judges, said Alberto Solis, the interim director for the UNM Business Plan Competition Program, in an email to the Daily Lobo.

Teams have the option to compete in one of two categories, he said.

The first category is the technology ventures track, which is for teams trying to commercialize technology that may require protection, such as a patent, Solis said.

The second category is the entrepreneurial ventures track that allows for a wide array of business ideas that do not require a patent. The top three winners in each category will receive a cash prize in addition to guidance about how to use that prize to implement their business venture, he said.

Daniela Fry and Julianne Montano are members of one of the teams competing in this year’s entrepreneur ventures track. Both team members will be graduating in May. Fry will be completing a degree in international business, and Montano will be completing a degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing.

Their plan is centered around a confectionary treats catering business Fry started, called “Dipped by Dee.”

Fry said she began her business by catering chocolate-dipped strawberries but has expanded her range of products to pretzels, marshmallows, Rice Krispies and more in order to meet consumer demand.

“To this day, we have had 100 percent consumer satisfaction as far as new things go,” Fry said. “If (customers) ask for something new, I’ve been able to deliver exactly what they have asked for 100 percent of the time.”

Fry has unofficially been working on her business for about two years. She said it began as a hobby but quickly progressed.

“I say unofficially, because although I have been generating revenue and am now creating a profit, I do not have a license or any sort of permit — I have been completely working from home,” she said. “It’s a little intense.”

Since Fry started catering as a hobby, she said she did not expect to make a profit. Now that she is making a profit, she said the Business Plan Competition is challenging her to think more realistically about the future of her business.

“I’m really good at the marketing side,” Fry said. “I’m really good at reaching my customers and meeting demand, but I have only recently been switching to this mindset of creating profit.”

Fry said the competition will not determine the overall success of her business. Regardless of whether she wins the cash prize, Fry said the real prize is the resources and help she has received throughout this process.

“If I win, or even if I do not win, there is a team dedicated to helping develop start-ups — they work with you, give you resources, answer your questions and send you in the right direction,” she said. “They do what they can to help you actually make this happen.”

Montano is helping Fry with some of the marketing aspects of her business, as well as writing and presenting her business plan for the competition. Montano will not be able to continue working with Fry long-term after the competition, but said that it has been an honor to work with someone as ambitious as her teammate.

“Daniela (Fry) is very passionate about her company,” Montano said. “ I think that is a very important aspect when you are starting a business. When you have a basic knowledge of business, and you come in with a passion, I think that makes you such a strong competitor. That is why I chose to support her in this competition.”

Mikhaela Smith is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @MikhaelaSmith18.