Gupta College of Business revitalizes pitch competition

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The Gupta College of Business has brought back a competition that had been neglected over the years. In years past, the competition was called the Gupta Business Plan Competition. Now it’s been given a makeover as the 2022 Gupta Business Pitch Competition Presented by Oncor.

Dr. Scott Wysong, associate professor of marketing and MBA program director in Gupta, who is running the competition, said: “The dean’s excited about it. We kind of let it fall by the wayside, now we’re bringing it back and hopefully it’s a way to engage not only alumni, but get sponsors. Oncor has put up the cash for the prize and we hope to get other sponsors in the future as well.”

The competition was open to graduates and undergraduates alike, regardless of college or major. In order to enter the competition, students were asked to make a video in which they pitched their business idea in no more than three minutes. 

Wysong described the competition as such: “Everybody’s watched “Shark Tank,” so it’s kind of like the Gupta Shark Tank. You know, pitch your idea and let’s see what kind of idea you got.”

The deadline to submit entries was April 7. As of now, the entries are being judged, and the semi-finalists will be announced next week. The chosen semi-finalists will be assigned mentors to help fine-tune their pitches. On May 4, the finalists will pitch their ideas live to three judges, and the winner will be decided. First prize is $3,000, second prize is $2,000, and third prize is $1,000. 

Those chosen for the semi-finals will be assessed on clarity of thought, conviction, passion, practicality and whether there is a demand for the product. “It really goes back to basic business, basic marketing,” said Wysong. “They have to have a unique idea and obviously present that idea in the video with passion, conviction, saying: ‘I know this will work. I’m gonna do this.’ So [they’ll be judged on] how well they know it, how well it fits a need and their passion or excitement for the product or service idea.”

The last winner of this competition was Sonia Kirkpatrick, who, as a result of winning the competition, went on to found the company PediaPlex.

Kirkpatrick has a daughter with autism, Megan, and when Megan was a young girl, Kirkpatrick found herself driving all over the DFW metroplex for Megan’s doctor’s appointments. Kirkpatrick navigated many different locations and left with so many unanswered questions, but she accepted the doctors’ diagnosis of Megan being completely normal. It wasn’t until she had her second child that she knew the doctors were mistaken about Megan. Kirkpatrick was frustrated with the whole situation, which planted the seed for her business plan at the University of Dallas.

Kirkpatrick decided to go back to school in 2009 at UD. She entered the business plan competition, and it was there she uncovered the idea for PediaPlex, an autism spectrum disorder-specialty practice. 

Kirkpatrick said, “The opportunities through [the] University of Dallas have been endless. Being awarded a winner of the business plan competition at [the] University of Dallas and making PediaPlex a dream come true started my journey.” 

The Gupta College hopes that Kirkpatrick’s story will inspire all students. 

As to why this competition,or something like it, has been nonexistent for a while, Wysong said, “Primarily because we didn’t have a champion as far as a faculty advisor. We used to have somebody that was really involved as far as our entrepreneurship program and we don’t have that program anymore. This [competition] is something we’ve been meaning to bring back, so this is our bringing back party. We’ll see how it goes.”

The hope is to continue the competition in the future, making it an annual event. Wysong said: “We wanted to see how it went this year, but we’ve got more interest than I had thought. We kept it kind of simple this year, just to streamline it, make sure it’s semi-successful so that we can build on it in future years.”

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