Fabric shop, equipment trader win business plan contest

Two women who want to open a fabric store and a broker of used heavy equipment tied for first place Nov. 28 in the second annual Business Plan Competition at Alaska Pacific University.

A doctor hoping to develop four different technologies aimed at controlling the spread of infections in hospitals was the runner-up.

The competition featured a total of seven companies and prospective companies that had prepared their business plans with the help of master of business administration students in assistant professor Bruce Borup’s entrepreneurship class.

With a crowd of about 50 people looking on, each company was given eight minutes to explain their business idea and lay out the type and amount of funding they were seeking. They then faced questioning from a panel of 10 judges representing the banking and investing communities.

Borup said that this year’s competition differed from last year’s in that more of the presenters were from businesses that already exist and who need capital to expand.

One of the winners, Terry Shurtleff of Pacific Machinery & Appraisals, was in that category. He’s been in business three years; this year, he told the judges, his revenues have doubled from 2000 and are now in excess of $1 million.

Shurtleff acts as a broker of used construction equipment, matching up buyers and sellers and taking a commission on each sale. This summer, however, he came across a great deal on some used Bobcat front-end loaders and purchased them. He said he was able to resell them in 85 days and make a good profit.

Shurtleff, whose background includes working for GE Finance Corp., was asking for a line of credit he could use in case he came across similar opportunities in the future. The judges apparently believed it was a reasonable thing to do and awarded him top prize in the competition.

That turned out to be a tie for first place, with a company which is in the planning stages called Seams to Be, a fabric store that co-owners Jeanette Mathews and Monique Garbowicz want to open in Midtown.

The partners were seeking $500,000 in start-up funds, and, under questioning, said they would take any mix of debt and equity, so long as they retained control of the company. They presented a detailed analysis of the current demand for their type of store and the competition it will face.

Mathews and Garbowicz said they will offer fabrics that are different from the competition’s and will provide a variety of sewing classes to customers as a way of building loyal, repeat customers. They also provided detailed month-by-month projections of revenues and expenses for several years.

By winning the competition, the two companies are eligible to present their business plans to a wider audience of potential investors at the InvestNet Capital Investment Conference, March 12-14 in Anchorage.

The runner-up company, Microbian, was seeking start-up funds for a four-pronged attack on infections that people get when they stay at hospitals. Company founder Brett Baker, a medical doctor with extensive experience in dealing with infections, said more than 2 million people catch infections in hospitals in this country every year, and 90,000 of them die.

Baker was seeking $1.7 million to perfect a suite of systems to fight the infections and get them patented. One is a disinfectant that not only kills germs, it also breaks a bond bacteria form that causes them to stick to surfaces. Another is a spray that prevents bacteria from growing on surfaces in the first place.

Baker’s third idea involves an electrical device that prevents bacteria, including anthrax spores, from moving from one part of a hospital to another. Finally, he wants to develop software to manage and track comprehensive infection-fighting programs in hospitals.

Baker’s advisers and board of directors included prominent national experts in the field of fighting infections. He said that in addition to seeking investors, he is applying for federal grants from the National Institutes of Health.

The other companies that presented business plans were:

Advanced Clinical Skin Care, an Anchorage business that wants to purchase new equipment; Village Barabara Lodge, a proposed lodge on the bluff overlooking Homer; Cottage Boutique and Bakery in Anchorage, which wants to buy a frozen yogurt machine; and Spin Theory, a company that wants to offer integrated marketing plans to small businesses.To have a judge take part in the event, companies were asked to make a cash donation. The money will be distributed as scholarships to the APU students who prepared the top three winning entries. The sponsors and the judges representing them were: Alaska Growth Capital, Patrick Williams; Wedbush Morgan Securities, Robert Ballow; Alaska InvestNet, Mark Bendersky; First Interstate Bank, John Weaver; Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, Jim McMillan; Alaska Manufacturers Association, Jim Wamberg; Wells Fargo, Pam Mommsen; First National Bank of Alaska, Bill Inscho; Key Bank, David Moran; and Northrim Bank, Edward La Fleur.The Journal also helped sponsor the event.
12/09/2001 - 8:00pm