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Business Plan Winner Announced at Cheyney ELC Award Ceremony

April 25, 2014

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Cheyney University ELC Business Plan Competition winner, senior Travis Elliott, proudly holds his trophy. The 23-year-old also won an Apple iPad Mini for his business plan for a mobile barbecue business.

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The Entrepreneurial Leadership Center (ELC) at Cheyney University held its annual Entrepreneurial Leadership Fair, intended to help entrepreneurs get a better understanding of how to start their own businesses. Those who came were able to peruse resource tables set up by the U.S. Census Bureau, Disadvantaged Business Enterprises Supportive Services Center (DBE SSC) and Small Business Enterprises Supportive Services Center (SBE SSC), U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), TD Bank and the Chester County Chapter of SCORE. Attendees secured information about starting businesses and engaged in informal discussions with the representatives during the networking lunch. The morning keynote address was delivered by Darrell “Coach D” Andrews, a 1988 Cheyney University graduate and nationally acclaimed motivational speaker and author. His motivational presentation encouraged the attendees to let their passion guide their entrepreneurial endeavors.

Concurrent workshops were presented by Danielle Pritchett who discussed time management, Chike Uzoka who talked about the ins and outs of startup funding, and Darrell Andrews who presented on developing meaningful business relationships. Each speaker elaborated on the importance of those three topics to ensure that the young entrepreneurs understood how much hard work and dedication is required to start a business.

Senior psychology major Nyshia Saunders said she learned something from each workshop but that she really appreciated Pritchett’s topic, time management, one of the 22-year-old’s biggest challenges. “She gave me little innovative ways to use technology to help with time management,” she explained. “She told us about various apps that we could download to our cell phones to sync to our calendars. She told us to set alarms to keep us organized and on task.” In fact, Saunders said, Pritchett told students to schedule their entire day using alarms to denote everything from when to eat breakfast and take breaks, to when to go to class and work.

In addition, Saunders, who is toying with opening her own psychology clinic in an urban neighborhood one day, said she learned a great deal about where to get funding outside of bank loans. “I gained valuable information that will be useful if I decide to pursue my own entrepreneurial dream one day,” she stated.

Later that night, the ELC hosted its annual Business Plan Competition Awards Ceremony. This year’s keynote speaker was NBA Champion, entrepreneur, author and philanthropist Derek L. Anderson who spoke about his inspirational journey to entrepreneurship. Anderson shared his life story by discussing his many trials and tribulations since age 11. The overcomer told the audience to, no matter what, not let others opinions of you define who you are, never give up on yourself,  have good character, be effective in all that they do, and to always strive to be healthy in body, mind, and spirit.

“He was phenomenal,” Saunders exclaimed. “He had a really tough life story. He told us how he became a father at 14 after both of his parents basically abandoned him. He had to make a way for himself and his son so he raised him and worked and went to school all at the same time. It’s great to see someone push through a whole bunch of adversities and still manage to come out on top.”

The retired NBA Champion, now worth a reported $100 million, stuck around to sign copies of his book, Stamina, that is currently being made into a movie. The proceeds from the book sales benefit the ELC. First, though, the five finalists in Cheyney’s Business Plan Competition, Dymund Coles, Johnathan Cooper, Julian Dunn, Travis Elliot and Rhonda Parham, got to present their entrepreneurial ventures via videos that they’d prepared. The judges were faculty members Dr. Vanessa Brantley, Professor Linda Taylor, and Assistant Director of the Economic and Workforce Development Center, Mae Stephens.

“This year’s five finalists are conscientious and have worked hard on their business plans throughout their winter and spring breaks,” said Sharon Cannon, Executive Director of the Economic and Workforce Development Center at Cheyney University. “Their dedication is what got them to the finish line.”

Before the winner was announced, last year’s winner, Photographer Stan Banks, charged the finalists to keep pushing forward to the next step because, even though the competition is over, he said, this was just the beginning of more to come.

Senior Recreation and Leisure Management major Travis Elliott took first place for his business, Elliott Brown’s BBQ, a mobile truck similar to Mr. Softee that sells barbecue food. He received the grand prize of a trophy and an Apple iPad Mini.

The 23-year-old said he can't see himself working a 9 to 5 job so he'd rather be in business for himself. Winning the competition made him happy and proud. "I feel like all of my hard work paid off. I put a lot of hours in working on that business plan," he admitted. "I started the business plan over Christmas break and it took me two months to fully complete it."

Julian Dunn and Rhonda Parham tied for second place in the competition. Dunn, for his financial business called Dunn Well Financial, and Parham for her home-based family bakery called Pink Sprinkles that serves delicious, customized masterpieces. Johnathan Cooper’s marketing and consulting business, J AL Writing and Research, took third place while Dymund Coles’ videography business, Miayre Studios, took Honorable Mention. All of the winners will continue to work with the ELC to move their plans through to execution.

The ELC was established at Cheyney University in 2008 with a grant from the PA State System of Higher Education (PASSHE). Thanks to subsequent funding through the Strengthening Historically Black Colleges and Universities Program (Title III) and the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), the Center is now fully equipped with state-of-the art technology resources, a lending library, and a full time project coordinator. The Center brings successful entrepreneurs to campus each year through its lectures series. Cannon credits Cheyney President Michelle R. Howard-Vital for the success and continued growth of the ELC because she has embraced and supported it from the beginning.