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The University of Alabama

Three UA Teams Win Culverhouse Business Plan Competition with Innovative Ideas

UA Business Plan Competition Winning Teams

UA Business Plan Competition Winning Teams

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Three University of Alabama student teams are on their way to starting their own businesses after winning the Culverhouse College of Commerce’s Edward K. Aldag Jr., Business Plan Competition.

A new antenna design that allows users to wirelessly charge battery powered devices, an online store that sells customizable socks and a virtual currency for online games of chance are three innovative business plans that resulted in wins for the student teams.

The winning teams, recently announced at the grand finale at The Edge Center for Entrepreneurship in downtown Tuscaloosa, will each receive $15,000 in cash for startup funding, and each team will receive $16,000 in-kind support.

The winners (in alphabetical order of business plan names) are:

E-Electricity— Sloan McCrary, MBA student from Alpharetta, Ga., co-founder and chief executive officer, and Will Sanders, MBA student from Mobile, and co-founder and chief operating officer.  E-Electricity is developing a new antenna design that allows users to wirelessly charge battery powered devices such as a cellphone or wireless mouse using existing batteries with radio frequency waves. The innovation will allow users to charge their mobile devices without plugging into an electrical outlet or external battery. The technology is based upon research by Dr. Jaber Abu-Qahouq, UA assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and adviser to the team.—David Detz, a senior in the College of Communication and Information Sciences from Miami, Fla., president and director of marketing. is an online store that specializes in customization and personalization of athletic socks from manufacturers such as Nike.

PlayerSwap—Charles “Eric” Tiller, junior in the Culverhouse College of Commerce from Tuscaloosa, c0-founder and chief executive officer. PlayerSwap is a virtual currency exchange and market website that simplifies trading of MMO game currency and crypto-currency trading that focuses on creating an exchange for players of Massive Multiplayer Online Games, or MMO.

“These students represented in the competition are some of the next entrepreneurs that can help create innovative jobs in Alabama,” said Dr. J. Michael Hardin, dean of UA’s Culverhouse College of Commerce. “I am very proud of the high caliber of students we have here on campus. And I look forward to seeing these students succeed in their entrepreneurship endeavors.”

The Edward K. Aldag, Jr. Business Plan Competition is being permanently endowed thanks to a $250,000 commitment from Culverhouse alumnus Ed Aldag, class of 1986, the founder and CEO of Medical Properties Trust of Birmingham. Aldag attended the final presentations, presented the winners with certificates and encouraged their entrepreneurial spirit.

“The world needs entrepreneurs – people who create new initiatives and work hard to make the world better,” said Aldag, who launched Medical Properties Trust just 10 years ago. “It’s great to see them developing at The University of Alabama, my alma mater, and endeavoring to make such a positive difference. Congratulations to everyone who participated in this inspiring competition.”

“The competition kicked off this past fall during our new venture cycle with a concept pitch competition designed to get students thinking about new business ideas,” said Dr. Louis Marino, Culverhouse professor of strategic management. “And more than 100 entries were received.”

In January, all UA students were encouraged to enter the competition. Students with an established business plan with sales for the last fiscal year that did not exceed $100,000 were also eligible.

Judges narrowed down the initial pool of 18 submitted business plans for a preliminary round, followed by the final round of six pitches to a panel of successful entrepreneurs.

“The entire competition was exciting for the students, and it’s a great way to generate creative ideas for businesses that will fuel the local and state economy,” said Marino. “The next step is for us to help these students further develop their plans.”

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.