News Details

April 07, 2017

Karickhoff, Fluke to Compete in Final Round of WV Business Plan Competition

The Thomas H. Albinson II School of Business at West Virginia Wesleyan College is pleased to announce that Lisa Karickhoff, a sophomore business administration major from Buckhannon, and Bryson Fluke, a freshman business administration major from Buckhannon, will compete in the final round of the West Virginia State Business Plan Competition this April, introducing their innovative product ItSticks!, which has already been used for Wesleyan’s Grab & Go program through Aladdin Food Services, Inc. 

ItSticks! is a stick-on sealer used to seal paper bags shut.  The strips are approximately a four-inch strip of permanent adhesive which is placed on the side of the bag with a removal tab on the exposed side.  ItSticks! offers a finger lift liner with a dry end on both sides, making removal fast and easy.  The strip could be placed on any bag the customer desires to be sealed. 

“Our ultimate goal is to seal the paper bag with a neater finish all while making it easier for customers to transport and keep warm and mess-free if necessary,” stated Karickhoff.

The idea for ItSticks! came from Fluke after he realized he would, after receiving items from a drive-thru, roll the top of the bag down to seal the heat in.  Thinking there had to be a simpler way to keep the bag closed, both he and Karickhoff began drafting the invention for their Entrepreneurship and Innovations class.  The team partnered with Fluke’s father, Eric Fluke, owner of Sunset Graphics, who printed the adhesive strips.

“We believe what made us stand out at semi-finals was the fact that we were a step ahead of everyone else,” Karickhoff stated.  “We already had our prototype.”

The West Virginia Collegiate Business Plan Competition affords college students around the state the unique opportunity to make a business idea come to life with the support of state institutions of higher education and seasoned business professionals from around the country.  The goal of the competition is to provide students with the education, skills, contacts, and motivation necessary to create a viable start-up company in West Virginia.  Three grand prize packages consisting of $10,000 cash, accounting, legal, and virtual or physical incubator space are awarded to the top team in each category: lifestyle and innovation, hospitality and tourism, and STEM/technology.

The competition consists of three rounds.  Karickhoff and Fluke completed a business plan form and was chosen to continue into the competition.  They then submitted a written feasibility study, presented a two minute elevator pitch of their business plan to a conference, and participated in a series of interviews with business professionals to discuss their plan.  The top five teams in each category advance to the final round.

The duo introduced their product to Terry Brown, director of food services at Wesleyan, who purchased 250 strips to test out on Grab & Go lunches for one day.  After ItSticks! was used, the partners conducted a survey with the student body where they found 78% of the Wesleyan community who purchased Grab & Go that day would like to see the service continued. 

“We are hoping that this will be a continued partnership,” stated Fluke.  “We also hope to reach out to surrounding colleges and eventually into the fast-food market.”

During the final round, Karickoff and Fluke will be giving comprehensive instruction and support in developing a complete business plan for their idea.  They will be provided a business coach to mentor their team and a stipend of $1,000 to cover costs associated with developing their business.  The team will then submit a 20-page business plan to a panel of judges and then make oral presentations to the panel.

“The West Virginia Business Plan Competition has been a great learning experience,” commented Karickhoff.  “The opportunities this competition offers to students is outstanding, and I am thankful we have been able to utilize the advantages that have been offered.  From attending a workshop at West Virginia University (WVU) with financial advisors, marketing professionals, and successful business owners to working with our WVU Law Students on forming our LLC, we have been so grateful to take our idea to the next level.”

“The Competition has really opened my eyes to the business world,” agreed Fluke.  “I have become inspired by those who currently have successful businesses because I now realize the hard work, thought, and time that goes into starting a business.  These are only the first steps for us, and I believe the knowledge I have gained from the competition this far will only benefit me in the future.”

The team must submit their final business plan by April 17, and the final round of the competition will take place at West Virginia University on April 21.

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