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The 2020 Boeing New Business Challenge featured a wide variety of promising new business ideas by UAH students. The competition faced unique challenges this year, but these talented students definitely rose to the occasion. Team RESPAWN took first place and a $12,000 scholarship prize, while Team Edify was the runner-up with a $3,000 scholarship prize, all made possible by generous support of The Boeing Company.

First-place winners in Team RESPAWN were Jake Novak, Logan Dolloff, and Rachel Early. RESPAWN’s business idea was inspired by Logan Dolloff’s idea for an Esports center and cafe called RESPAWN. “I liked the idea of a dedicated area to video game competition, but also a great hangout environment,” said Logan. 

Both Jake and Logan are junior information systems majors with concentrations in cybersecurity at the UAH College of Business, and they met each other in a shared information systems class. They decided to team up for the competition, and also invited Rachel, a sophomore communication arts major with a minor in marketing, whom Jake had met through a Bible study they both attended. 

Team RESPAWN’s development process was a little chaotic at first since they made the decision to participate in the challenge at the very last minute. “We really had to throw stuff together and cram to make it in the first round,” Logan said. 

Each team member’s education at UAH really came into play throughout the competition. “I was in the process of taking Marketing 301, so a lot of the things I learned in that class really helped us with the business plan component of the challenge,” Rachel said. “My accounting class really helped me realize the complexity of the costs of a start-up business,” Jake added. “Communications was the most helpful class for me, especially in the presentation component,” Logan said.

Research was a huge factor in Team RESPAWN’s success in the challenge. “We made sure to have facts to back up every little thing in the business plan, down to the cost of making a single smoothie,” Logan elaborated. “We did all the work to make it seem like we could start this business tomorrow.” 

When asked about their favorite part of participating in the challenge, Team RESPAWN’s response was quick and unanimous: “The end! But seriously, we worked really hard, and it was awesome to see it pay off,” they all agreed. Their least favorite part, however, was continuously editing and revising the business plan. “But it was necessary for us to do everything we did so that our business plan was as thorough as it needed to be to win.” 

Brook Childers and Julia Jones made up Team Edify, the runner-up. They were inspired by the idea of creating an education program for special education teachers in order for them to best guide their students into their long-term careers. “We liked the idea of forming a bridge between the business side of HR hiring and the teaching side and connecting the knowledge between the two to help students with special needs succeed in the long run,” Julia elaborated. 

Team Edify’s process in the challenge was made easier by their education at UAH. Both graduating seniors, Julia, a management major with a concentration in human resources and a minor in communications, and Brook, a marketing major with a minor in biology, could pinpoint specific classes they had taken in their college career that had contributed to their successes in the challenge. “Marketing Management taught by Dr. Bao was especially helpful for me,” Brook said. “My Competitive Strategy and International Business classes helped me out a lot. I got to experience making a business plan through my education at UAH before I ever had to do it for the challenge,” Julia added. 

Julia and Brook had worked together in the past, and have been friends for a  long time. “It was a pretty natural decision for us to pair up,” Julia said. Their favorite part of the challenge was making a video presentation for their business idea. “We got to work with families that our business plan would positively impact, who have special needs children. It was a surreal experience to work so closely with the people you’re aiming and working to help,” they said. 

Team Edify’s advice for future Business Challenge teams is to get to know the people you’re interested in helping on a personal level, ensure you’re passionate about the concept you’re framing your business around, and do the legwork ahead of time. “All of those things made it a really special experience for us,” they said. 

Congratulations to Team RESPAWN and Team Edify on your impressive achievements in the 2020 Boeing New Business Challenge!