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UNH business competition has come a long way

Union Leader Correspondent

May 10. 2012 11:17PM
Paul Holloway, center, congratulates MBA students Andrew Jaccoma of Dover and Olha Johnson of Manchester, who won the 2012 University of New Hampshire Whittemore School of Business and Economics Paul J. Holloway Prize Innovation-to-Market competition. (COURTESY / UNH)

DURHAM - Paul J. Holloway said the University of New Hampshire business competition held in his name each year has come a long way since 1988.

Back then, students offered up ideas like babysitting services, he said during the competition Wednesday.

Times change.

The six business plans offered by student finalists Wednesday dealt with things that were over his head, he admitted, and all involved still-evolving Internet media, such as cloud services and GPS.

The Whittemore School of Business and Economics Paul J. Holloway Prize Innovation-to-Market competition has spurned at least 30 existing businesses since it was founded 24 years ago, Holloway said.

On Wednesday, business plans ranged from custom-made student apparel to privatizing data in a cloud-based Internet universe.

Graduating MBA students Andrew Jaccoma of Dover and Olha Johnson of Manchester won first place for their Sensible Spreader System, a plan to use GPS technology to allow transportation officials to specify the best type of de-icer to use on a particular roadway. They competed against five other finalists in the championship round.

GearFreedom, an online marketplace to rent sports gear locally placed second, and Sosponsored, an online customized apparel and advertising company that will allow customers to design their own clothing and add company logos, placed third.

The Holloway competition is the oldest business plan competition in the state and one of the first held in the nation. It is designed to stimulate entrepreneurship and is open to all university system graduate and undergraduate students who have a proposal for bringing an innovative product or service to market.

The competition helps students gain first-hand experience in commercializing new products and services, and provides access to faculty advisors and industry experts.

The contestants competed for more than $85,000 in prize money and consulting services provided by Paul and Anna Grace Holloway, the Paul J. Holloway Prize Fund, the Albin Entrepreneurship Fund, the Nelson Fund for Business Innovation, PixelMEDIA, and the New Hampshire Innovation Commercialization Center.

Each finalist received a different level of prize money, with Sensible Spreader Technologies, LLC receiving $10,000 cash and more than $50,000 in consulting services.

The other finalists included ExCao, an online firm that will connect entry-level employee-seeking firms with qualified college students, and LocalGrub, a hub for people looking for local, sustainably grown and organic food.

Five local businesspeople, including 2012 Holloway Entrepreneur of the Year Matt Pierson, judged the competition.

It was established in 1988 by Paul J. Holloway's family to honor his entrepreneurial spirit and 'outstanding business strategies.'

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