The results of the Fall 2013 Best Business Competition favored three SUU students, who received an honorable mention and $2,500 for their business idea of making casket and headstone kits for pets.
Their idea also won the team first place in the Opportunity Quest competition, which is an annual event specifically for SUU students. It is done concurrently with the Best Business Competition.
The three SUU students who received an honorable mention and first place in the Opportunity competition were Mark Ashby, Nathan Coats and Benjamin Edwards.
The group won a total of $2,500 to put toward their business, and they now have the opportunity to compete for $40,000 to help their business start up at the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge.
Mark Ashby, a graduate student from Sandy studying accounting, said he came up with the idea to make caskets for pets with his father-in-law.
Ashby said when he originally came to SUU as a veterinary technician, he discussed the idea with his father-in-law, who came up with the design for the casket.
When they heard about the competition, they decided to make a business from their idea and to enter it into the competition.
Ashby said the group’s casket design for the caskets was different from their competitors’ because their caskets go to the customer unassembled, and when the customer needs to use it, they can easily put it together.
Ashby said there are a lot of benefits in sending the casket unassembled.
“We save on shipping because it’s not such a big package,” Ashby said. “And if people want to buy it ahead of time, it’s really easy to store so they don’t have to scramble for something when their pet dies.”
Nathan Coats, a sophomore computer science major from Holden, was also a part of the winning group. Coats was in charge of the website and technology required for their business, and is a co-director with Ashby.
Coats said the business competition was a great experience and he learned a lot from it.
“You learn a lot about yourself and other people, and you can take your ideas and put them somewhere instead of just keeping them bottled up,” he said.
Joni Anderson, assistant director of SUU’s Business Resource Center, said the people at the center enjoy seeing so many different ideas and helping those involved continue with their business ideas.
“This is our 8th Annual Best Business Idea Competition, and we are happy and excited every year to see the variety of business ideas that come from the community,” Anderson said. “We want to continue the progress and support the new and existing small businesses in our community.”
The Best Business competition had 21 entrants, each of whom submitted a written business plan and a video promoting their idea. From those entries, 10 were chosen to be finalists and then gave a presentation to a panel of 13 judges.
The Best Business competition is held annually and is open to anyone in the Iron, Beaver and Garfield counties who have a business idea they would like to share.
Other SUU students who placed in the Opportunity Quest were Brody Fausett, who’s idea was an app that is a discount directory; and Statton Littlefield, who’s idea was high quality emergency survival kits.