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Entrepreneurs to make final sales pitch of CCBC business contest Saturday

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Eight budding entrepreneurs have made it to Saturday's final round of the Enterprise Institute's Business Plan Competition with the top four to be awarded money to make their dream a reality.

The grand prize winner receives $500; second place gets $250; and third and fourth place winners will be awarded $125 each during the Jan. 25 ceremony at the Rolling Road Golf Club.

Dennis Sullivan, coordinator of business studies at the Catonsville campus of Community College of Baltimore County, said the competition allows students and alumni of the college with a business plan to implement their ideas with the help of mentors from the local business community.

"More than half of the students tell us they want to start their own business," Sullivan said. "They don't want to work for someone else. They want to work for themselves."

Michael Adams is an 18-year-old freshman at the campus. He has submitted a plan to start an art festival that he said will, "bring the community together." The idea was inspired by his love of music, he said.

Another idea presented by Brendon Choi, a 21-year-old student from Korea, would offer a 24-hour restaurant option that serves freshly baked cookies.

He said the concept would provide students like him with the energy boost they need to study, he said.

Choi, who works as a full-time custodian at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, said the inspiration for his business came from his appreciation for baked goods.

Even if he doesn't win, Choi said the experience of writing his own business plan has been rewarding.

Jose Sanchez, 57, a computer networking specialist and a hospitality management major at the campus, said he started taking classes at the campus to learn more about the hospitality business.

His plan is to open a coffee shop and bakery named Daniel's Cafe, after his 11-year-old son.

"I always wanted to name something after him` and to leave him a legacy," Sanchez said.

Shante Snowden, a mother of three and certified fitness instructor, wants to combat childhood obesity by getting kids excited about exercise.

If she wins, she'll use it to fund a fitness service for kids, which she described as similar to the workout DVD program "Insanity Workout."

"I had an idea for a business, and I wanted to see if other people would be as excited about the idea as I was," said Sheron Johnson, a 24-year-old business administration major.

Her plan is to open a hair salon called "Unbeweavable", that will only use natural products and allow patrons to get in and out of the salon in four hours, she said.

Jessica Hejl, 21, had the idea to start a preschool as a high school student, she said.

"I plan on opening a preschool franchise like Kindercare," she said.

Hejl, who has always wanted to become a teacher, recently earned a degree in early childhood education. She's now taking business courses to learn how to implement her business concept.

CCBC alumni Tiffany Davis, is a 41-year-old administrative assistant at the school, entered the competition to bring her custom wedding invitation business to life. She'd like to work with couples to design hand-crafted invitations for their special day.

One of the finalists, Lee Gorschboth, has already gotten her massage therapy business off the ground and has opened an office in Bel Air.

A former registered nurse turned massage therapist, she said the prize money could help her establish her newly opened business.

The entrepreneurial hopefuls will present their business plans to a panel of judges Saturday evening.

The event is a culmination of a process that began an orientation session Oct. 1. Workshops in strategic planning, market planning and financial planning were offered later in the month.

The participants' management team, market opportunity, strategy and financials were evaluated during a screening round in late November.

In the final round in late December, judges considered the full business plan, which included how the target market needs were addressed, the viability of the business plan and the quality of presentation.

The top four finalists will work with students in the school's business management class during the spring. The class members will serve as marketers, web developers, researchers, management consultants or accountants, depending on the finalists' business needs.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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