PIKEVILLE – University of Pikeville students from Team Rhizofeed won their fifth consecutive business plan competition during the IBK Capital – Ivey Business Plan Competition, in London Ontario, Canada, and received the $20,000 prize.
The students defeated several top ranked teams during the elite, graduate level competition Jan. 23. UPIKE faced international teams including, the Ivey Business School, rated as the second college of business in Canada; Rice University, rated the fourth entrepreneurship program in the U.S.; the University of Louisville, rated as the ninth entrepreneurship program in the U.S.; and the University of Arkansas, whose business plan teams have won $2.3 million in prize money.
“This truly is an exceptional achievement for these students and exemplifies what can be accomplished by the University of Pikeville. I greatly appreciate their hard work and professionalism,” said David Snow, D.M., director of the Kentucky Innovation Network Pikeville office, director of business competitions, associate professor of business and faculty adviser for the team.
Team Rhizofeed competed against Rice University and the Ivey School of Business in the final round which consisted of a 15-minute presentation before a select panel of judges followed by 15 minutes of answering questions concerning their business plan. During the two-day event, student teams also heard entrepreneurship lectures given by professors and experienced entrepreneurs and attended a gala dinner hosted by the Ivey School of Business.
“Traveling to Canada was a huge life changer for me personally in terms of perspective. Not only do Kentucky business people believe in our product, people from all over the world do as well,” said Wesley Barnett of Cynthiana. “Growing up on a farm you see the applications of products relative to agriculture and the fruits of said applications. But for me and the rest of Team Rhizofeed, we never would have guessed the amount of work that goes into making a single one of those products.”
UPIKE students Molly Frank of Greensburg, Erica Newsome, Matthew Thacker and Justin Prater of Pikeville, and Barnett make up team Rhizofeed. Frank and Newsome are biology majors and Barnett is a biology and chemistry major. Thacker and Prater are MBA students. The team has developed an organic feed additive for the poultry industry made from bloodroot grown in Eastern Kentucky. Their all-natural, patented product was created to replace antibiotic use in the poultry industry and enable farmers to raise healthier, larger chickens while also reducing feed costs.