Cole Jester wins 10th annual Ouachita Business Plan Competition

Ouachita Baptist University’s Hickingbotham School of Business hosted its 10th annual Business Plan Competition on Dec. 5. Cole Jester, a senior Christian studies/biblical studies major from Benton, Ark., placed first in the competition with his business plan for Bone Dri and received a $4,000 cash prize. Jester was advised by Bryan McKinney, dean of the Hickingbotham School of Business, associate professor of business law and university counsel.

First place winner Cole Jester, a senior Christian studies/biblical studies major from Benton, Ark.

Bone Dri is based on a product designed to dry wet hunting waders and boots. A hunter himself, Jester said he “wanted to build a business on what I knew and understood.”

“One cold morning, I realized my duck hunting waders were always wet, and it made my feet horribly cold,” Jester said. “When our first prototype, a pouch of silica gel, first dried out my wader boot, I realized we had stumbled upon an amazing product.

“This business competition win was affirming, not only to the idea, but to the kind of education Ouachita provides,” he added.

Immunovate earned second place in the competition. Immunovate, which seeks to develop a better test for screening prostate cancer, was presented by Joey Dean, a senior biology major from Hot Springs, Ark.; Joshua Lantzsch, a junior finance major from Rogers, Ark.; and Sykes Martin, a senior biology major from Sheridan, Ark. They were advised by Dr. Blake Johnson, assistant professor of biology, and received a $3,000 cash prize.

Kailee Jones, a senior biology major from Redwater, Texas, and Mallory Tabler, a senior biology major from Bentonville, Ark., received third place for their business, Quikgive; they were advised by Jeanie Curry, assistant professor of accounting. Quikgive is an online platform that helps connect donors with homeless shelters in order for donors to give exactly what the shelters need. Jones and Tabler received a $2,000 cash prize.

These three teams will advance to compete against the winners of Henderson State University’s competition during the OBU/HSU Business Plan Competition, which will take place in February 2019.

Ouachita’s Business Plan Competition is open to students from any discipline. Students are advised by faculty as they develop and practice the presentation of their business plan.

“At the heart of this competition is a student pitching an idea to a panel of judges and that student having to respond to the judges’ questions,” McKinney said. “That opportunity is tremendous for the students in the 10th year just as it was in the first year.”

In recent years, Ouachita students also have competed and placed in the statewide Governor’s Cup Business Competition, the same competition that Ouachita’s is modeled after.

“Last year, three of the state’s 12 semi-finalist teams were Ouachita teams, and two of the six finalist teams were Ouachita teams. One of our teams finished second overall last year,” McKinney added. “We’ve done quite well in the statewide competition, which I believe points towards the progression of the Ouachita Business Plan Competition.”