After beginning with almost 200
competitors, the seventh annual Business Plan Competition held by
Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education is down to 14 finalists—and
two of them are from IUP.
The competition provides student
entrepreneurs an opportunity to pitch their original business plans and to win
funds to assist in the start-up or expansion of their businesses.
The two IUP entries still competing
are Gator Oil and Gas Services, which is operated by Colin Gasper, and
CrocReady, a company owned by Ben Smith.
Oil and Gas Services is a company that provides support for major oil and gas
operators and service companies in the Marcellus and Utica shales region. Gator
Oil and Gas Services is the sister company of the supply company Gator Industrial
Solutions, LLC. Gator Oil and Gas Services provides four main service lines
including trucking, fuel services, safety/project management consulting, and
safety training. The company is owned by Gasper, who graduated from IUP in
is a food delivery service startup that will be based in the Pittsburgh
metropolitan area. CrocReady’s goal is to deliver pre-made crock-pot meals to
customers, who can store the meals in their refrigerator or freezer overnight
and insert the bagged meal into their crock pots to slowly cook during the day.
Smith will graduate from IUP in May 2018 and hopes to pursue the opening of
CrocReady in September 2018.
The winner of the $10,000 top prize—along with the second- and third-place finishers, who will receive prizes of
$5,000 and $2,500 respectively—will be announced April 4 at an awards
ceremony to be held at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania. The program
will begin at 5:00 p.m. with a reception and student poster session; the awards
ceremony will follow.
IUP students have won the competition
twice in the past.
In 2015, Ryan Brannon took home the
top prize for his web-based application My New Leaf, which was designed to
help young people deal with drug and alcohol abuse problems. Brannon, who continues
to work as the owner of the company, graduated from IUP in 2015 with a degree
in management information systems.
Krurlath Patel, a technology support
and training graduate, won the 2013 competition with his company
DormDiscount.com, an Internet- and mobile-based marketing platform. The platform
was designed to help small businesses to effectively market their promotions to
“This is an exciting opportunity for
our students to put everything they have learned in the classroom to practical
use,” said Board of Governors Chairwoman Cynthia Shapira. “A number of past
winners have gone on to successfully launch the businesses they conceived as
part of this practical, real-life experience. There is no better demonstration
of how our universities prepare students for success than this competition.”
“It is so exciting just to be able to
have the opportunity to listen to the students who participate in this
competition each year as they talk about their dreams,” said State System
Interim Chancellor Karen Whitney. “The ingenuity and determination they
demonstrate is remarkable. The large number of students who participate each
year speaks volumes about our students, the faculty who work with them, and
everyone who is involved in the competition from start to finish.”