A group of Shippensburg University marketing majors recently placed third in the eighth annual Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE)-sponsored Student Business Plan Competition.
Seniors David Brantley, Patrick Luebben and junior Alec Stimson’s award-winning business plan was “Marqo,” which Brantley described as an app service loyalty program for small businesses to use to attract and retain customers. The incentives include cash prizes, and exclusive merchandise to encourage customer loyalty.
“We entered the competition for validity. To show that other people believe in our business,” Brantley said. “We wanted to see if we could get past the first round — and then the second round — and then we were in the finals.”
The team beat out more than 170 teams, earning third places and a $2,500 prize. Marqo also took third place in the Launchbox competition at Pennsylvania State University.
With the prize money, Brantley said his team will seek legal help to aid with filing paperwork, and then put the money into promoting the business.
The business idea originally developed from Brantley brainstorming a way to reward out-of-town travelers for local shopping.
“A lot of my friends are international students, and they don’t know about our local shops and restaurants,” Brantley explained. “They always know about McDonald’s and Starbucks, but not of the really great local places.”
As for the future of Marqo, Brantley said the team will work on the business remotely from across the world, as Luebben is from Germany and Stimson is from Australia.
“We’re continuing to work on it every day and are in it for the long haul,” Brantley said.
According to Brantley, a handful of local Shippensburg businesses were willing to be partners and like the idea of the reward system.
“We’re excited for what the future holds,” he said.
The team also received help from freshman Josh Boothe, who helped with the technical development and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
Brantley encouraged SU students to participate in next year’s competition.
“Everyone has a business idea — enter the competition. You never know what may happen,” he said.