Superoots USA Wins BYU Business Plan Competition

Superoots USA captured first place at Brigham Young University’s nationally recognized business plan competition April 2. Brant Walker, owner and president of Superoots USA, beat out two other finalists to claim this year’s title with his plan to manufacture and distribute Air-Pot plant containers. The team won $25,000 in cash and $25,000 in in-kind support services for their business. In addition to winning the business plan competition, Walker was named BYU Student Entrepreneur of the Year in 2003.

Walker, a senior from Canby, Ore., majoring in business management, was joined by Brian Farnsworth, a second-year MBA student from Pocatello, Idaho, and Christopher Call, a JB/MBA candidate at University of Utah from Irvine, Calif. The innovative Air-Pot design allows plant roots to grow directly away from the trunk without wrapping around it. Air-Pots help simulate tree growth in the wild, where trees typically live three to four times longer than those started in traditional nursery containers.

The two other finalists, T-Splines and Tropi-Cool, tied for second place and each received $7,500 in cash and $17,500 in start-up services. T-Splines developed three-dimensional modeling software for the computer-aided modeling industry. The company is comprised of Matthew Sederberg, an economics major from Orem, Utah; Kyle Welch, a MAcc student from Carlsbad, Calif.; Brian Jensen, a second-year MBA student from Orem, Utah; Tom Finnigan, a graduate student in computer science from Columbia, Md.; Dave Cardon, a graduate student in computer science from Carson City, Nev.; and Nick North, a graduate student in computer science from Las Vegas. Finnigan, Cardon and North wrote the T-Spline technology.

Tropi-Cool is a company specializing in Mexican ice cream treats. Tropi-Cool was founded by Brandon Hatch, a junior at BYU majoring in recreation management from Chihuahua, Mexico, and Michael Stebinger, a senior in business management at Utah Valley State College from Westminster, Calif. The Latin-style ice cream parlor sells genuine Mexican fresh-fruit bars, high-quality ice cream and fresh-fruit drinks. Their products come in many unique flavors such as avocado, rice pudding, pistachio and mango.

The three teams were selected from a pool of nine semifinalists in late March. Fifty-five teams entered the competition that has been hosted for the last 11 years by the BYU Center for Entrepreneurship.

Two other teams won the global and social entrepreneurial categories. Machalilla Aquarium, a plan to construct an aquarium that will be located in Machalilla National Park, the coastal region of Ecuador, won the global entrepreneurial category. The aquarium will support Machalilla National Park in the conservation of

endangered habitats and wildlife species and promote a collaborative relationship between the park and the

local community. The management team consists of: Mike Eyre, Ignacio Araya, Marcelo Vinueza, Ekkehard Schulze, Lorenzo von Fersen, Ralf Kreitmaier and Horacio Araya.

The Mayan Tree, a producer and marketer of tropical food products, such as mango and pineapple slices, won the social entrepreneurial category. The company will provide significant economic and social development opportunities to the local indigenous Mayan Q’eqchi’ people in Guatemala’s Polochic Valley. The Mayan Tree’s executive board is comprised of Scott Porter, Levi Smylie, Larry Clawson, Jared Hansen, Brooke Hart, Gloria Mladineo, Leah Moses and Alisa Allred.

The BYU Business Plan Competition has a proven track record for discovering talent. The BPC has helped jumpstart a number of successful companies including 1-800-CONTACTS, Open Air Cinema, uSight, Property Solutions, LLC and others. The Center for Entrepreneurship and the BPC have aided BYU in creating one of the best programs in the nation for entrepreneurs. In 2003, Entrepreneur magazine listed BYU as one of the top regional programs in the nation. The winner of last year’s BPC event went on to win Fortune Small Business magazine’s first nationwide business plan competition, beating out more than 50 entrants from 49 of the top 50 business schools in the nation.

The Center for Entrepreneurship is part of the Marriott School of Management, located at Brigham Young University, the largest privately owned, church-sponsored university in the United States. The school has nationally recognized programs in accounting, business management, public management, information systems, organizational behavior and entrepreneurship. The school’s mission is to prepare men and women of faith, character and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Approximately 3,000 students are enrolled in the Marriott School’s graduate and undergraduate programs.

Media Contact: Joseph Ogden (801) 422-8938 or 787-9989
Writer: Lauren Funk (801) 422-1512