Rocky Students Impress at Big Sky EDA Start-Up Weekend

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photo by Karen Wray

photo by Karen Wray

By: Karen Wray –

The weekend of January 23-25 was very important to a number of students from Rocky Mountain College. Rocky played host to the Big Sky Economic Development Authority (EDA), who had one of their prestigious Business Start-Up Weekends in Losekamp Hall. Seven of the students from Scott Severance’s Entrepreneurship II class were involved in the program.The aim of this program is to get like-minded people together in order to enhance their current business ideas. This program is not only held in Billings, Mont., but there are also many more held throughout the world during the year.

The event is a competition, with prizes for the first three business plans that are created at each event. Big Sky EDA aims to enhance the entrepreneurial skills of the participants, so the weekend is focused entirely on business knowledge and development. There were around 70 participants at the event in Billings, with ages ranging from 16 to 70, so the groups were very diverse.

In order to start the weekend off, we had to pitch an entrepreneurial idea to all of the participants. This was then narrowed down to six ideas through a series of voting processes. There were four pitches from Rocky Mountain College students, which very much impressed everyone present. Once the voting happened, participants had to choose which business they would like to work on a business plan throughout the weekend.

Senior Andre McCullouch had a very successful idea, which happened to be chosen. The idea was to set up a Hookah Lounge in Billings, which was to be called “Jives and Vibes.” Throughout the weekend, the contestants and their teams worked together and received coaching from some of Billings’ finest entrepreneurs and coaches, such as RMC Business Professors Scott Severance and Ann Adair.

The weekend was a learning curve for all involved, as it was not only the participants learning, but also the coaches. One of the main factors I took from this experience was that the teams were pulled together through the choice of each member. One team leader, Andre, had a great outlook after the event was over. He thanked the team and said, “At the start of the weekend, we all stated what we thought we would be good at. However, when it came to getting the business plan made, we all had completely different strengths from what we originally thought.” I, myself, was in the ‘Jives and Vibes’ team, and I believe we all worked very well together in order to come up with what the judges described as ‘a very well thought out and realistic business plan’.”

The prizes for this weekend included many great rewards, such as office space for one, two, or three months; business consultation advice; two hours with an attorney; two hours with an accountant; iPads; and also five hours with a marketing consultant. Overall, the weekend was a success for all who were involved and, for Scott Severances’ Entrepreneurship II class, it was an invaluable opportunity to receive great advice.

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