Printed on: November 21, 2012

Rexburg Business Competition could serve as state model

By Matt Eichner
Rexburg Standard Journal

REXBURG -- Now in its third year, the Rexburg Business Competition has become a destination for entrepreneurs wanting to make their mark in eastern Idaho.

From Web-based marketing solutions to home restoration and building inspection, the ideas judges hear run the gamut as entrepreneurs look to earn seed money to get their business started.

Last year, $11,000 was awarded to businesses as seed money. Nearly the same amount will be awarded this year.

The winner receives $5,000. Second place is good for $3,000; third place gets $2,000. Business consulting also is awarded.

The Rexburg Business Competition is a model that could be taken statewide by the head of the Idaho Department of Commerce, according to competition organizer Daniel Torres.

"He assumed this thing was going on everywhere," Torres said. "This is something that he's pushed to be a model for the state of Idaho."

In years past, some entrepreneurs who've excelled in the Rexburg Business Competition have gone on to success at Idaho TechLaunch, a statewide competition that "introduces companies to the intricacies of early stage financing," according to a TechLaunch news release.

This spring, Citius Composites LLC won the TechLaunch 9.0 Entrepreneurial Idol competition, competing against nine other finalists from around the state.

In 2011, Appible, a Rexburg company that makes wallpaper screenshots for smartphones and tablets, took top honors at TechLaunch.

Also, Rexburg's Syphon LLC was this year's People's Choice award winner at Idaho TechLaunch.

This year's Rexburg Business Competition was Thursday at the Business Development Center.

One business, Goodie Fish, is looking to make its mark in bringing more businesses to the consumer and vice versa. The company also works to improve opportunities for customer feedback and interaction.

The brothers who own Goodie Fish, John Hoffman, 30, and Ben Hoffman, 35, have a Web-based business aimed at bringing other businesses closer to consumers.

"We're providing a platform for business to communicate with their market," Ben Hoffman said.

Through goodiefish .com, local businesses -- 20 already have signed up -- are better able to reach out to customers as the name spreads through the community.

Being up in front of six judges can be "nerve-racking," John Hoffman said. Each business entry presents a business plan by examining the market and potential competitors, the cost and the vision. They have a few minutes to give a presentation and then a few more for questions from the judges.

Time management is the key for a successful presentation, the Hoffmans said. One can't dwell too long on a slide, and one can't spend too much time answering a question.

The other part of the competition was an idea pitch, or "elevator pitch." This is a 90-second idea pitch followed by a short Q and A.

The judges, who are from Rexburg and beyond, were impressed by the presentations.

"Some great ideas," Rexburg CFO Richard Horner said. "Smart people with some wonderful enthusiasm."

The winners are

First place: Xaire, an automated loan processing and verification company

Second place: VeriDry, a construction-related company

Third place: Kayak, a high-tech collapsible boat company

Honorable mention: Virtum Academy, a K-12 online learning company