Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Business Plan Competition Winners Featured In Albuquerque Journal

The Albuquerque Journal recently featured Business Plan Competition winners Mother Road Mobile Canning in an article written by Kevin Robinson-Avila. The article is reprinted below in full with the permission of The Albuquerque Journal.

Albuquerque-based Mother Road Mobile Canning is on the fast lane to becoming a nationwide beverage packaging operation for small-sized breweries, wineries and other drink makers seeking an inexpensive way to can or bottle their brews.

The company is now operating in 10 states with three mobile canning and bottling trucks, said Mother Road founder and owner David Smidt, who recently earned his MBA from the University of New Mexico’s Anderson School of Management. Smidt got his start in mobile canning through the Anderson School’s annual business plan competition, which he won in 2013 by developing Mother Road Mobile Canning as an option for beverage makers to can their drinks on the cheap.

“We go from brewery to brewery to help businesses get their beverages into packaging and distribution,” Smidt said. “It allows them to substitute the startup capital they’d otherwise need to start their own cannery. Now they can just brew their beer and we get it packaged and distributed for them.”

Smidt’s canning business is one of nearly two dozen startups that launched through UNM’s business plan competition, which began in 2005 to allow students to compete for cash prizes for presenting the best strategies to build new technology and non-technology companies. The 2015 competition, which will take place next April, held a kick-off reception at the Anderson School on Sept. 10, where Smidt and the founders of four other companies that launched after winning the competition in past years discussed their accomplishments.

The competition provides $75,000 in cash prizes for six businesses, ranging from $2,500 for third place in the non-technology track to $25,000 for the top technology startup. In the past decade, 124 teams with 326 students have competed, said Sul Kassicieh, a distinguished Anderson professor and the endowed chair in economic development. About $1 million in cash prizes and in-kind services, such as free legal and marketing advice, have been awarded to winning teams over the years.
“Training entrepreneurs is central to economic development,” Kassicieh said. “Through the competition, students learn to construct a business plan, make strategic pivots in their path to market and navigate the challenges of starting and growing a business.”

In this year’s competition, $6,000 more will be awarded for four new prizes, including $2,000 each for two last-place but promising technology business plans, and $1,000 each for two non-technology last-place competitors, Kassicieh said. The prizes are provided by community sponsors, such as Sandia National Laboratories and local private businesses.

Like Smidt, many winners invest their winnings in efforts to continue building their proposed businesses. At this year’s kick-off reception, four other startups from previous competitions discussed their success. That includes an all-natural vegetable grower in Corrales that sells its produce at local restaurants and retail outlets, an engineering firm developing modern tools for fire fighters, a new beverage company launching its own unique brands of whiskey and bourbon and a company that created a novel rehabilitation exercise machine.