Northwestern student places fourth in 2016 Cherokee Strip Business Model Competition; brings BMX racing opportunity to Enid

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Northwestern student places fourth in 2016 Cherokee Strip Business Model Competition; brings BMX racing opportunity to Enid

June 27, 2016

Jessica Nelson, fourth place winner and People Choice Award winnerA Northwestern Oklahoma State University senior placed within the top four of the 2016 Cherokee Strip Business Model Competition recently and is set to sign a lease for her project - Enid BMX, Inc. - near Government Springs Park on Tuesday, June 28.

Jessica Nelson, Enid senior majoring in business administration, placed fourth overall and won the People’s Choice Award for her business model called Enid BMX, Inc.

Enid BMX, Inc. is a non-profit organization based in Enid and a family sport for all ages. Its mission is to promote a healthy and active lifestyle; to cultivate leadership and recognize achievement, and to teach youth civic values through the competitive sport of BMX racing.

The first stage of the competition was submitting a business plan that is no more than 30 pages in length. The judges combed through several entries over a two-week period and picked the top eight to move to the next round.

Round two consisted of a 15-minute presentation to the judges with some question and answer sessions. From there, the judges picked the top four to move to the final round and that’s when Nelson found out she made it to the final four.

“Honestly, I wasn't surprised that I made it to the top eight,” Nelson said. “What really caught me off-guard was making the final four. I believe the BMX track will provide a safe, family-fun attraction to the city of Enid, and it felt good that others see its potential like I do.”

Each round had its different challenges for Nelson, especially the final round.

“It was hard to break down an idea as huge as BMX into five short minutes,” Nelson said. “I think the ‘commercial’ (the 60-second pitch) provided all the visual tools needed to give the judges one last impact of what the sport is about.”

For receiving fourth place, Nelson was awarded $1,000 along with the People’s Choice Award, selected from among the top eight, for an additional $1,000 to be used for completing Enid BMX, Inc.

People's Choice was determined by everyone who attended the awards luncheon in which the final four had to present a 60-second pitch to all. 

All winners receive one-year of Self Employment Training (SET) client status. SET status includes access to the James W. Strate Center for Business Development during business hours to use the conference room, copier, printer, plan room, computer with Adobe Suite, and three business coaching sessions.

Nelson, a native to the Enid area, saw the competition as a true opportunity to benefit the community.

“I grew up here, and I have seen many changes in our growing city over the last few decades,” she said. “Recently, city commissioners have made more impact on the health and wellness of the city by providing updated park equipment and a large walking trail throughout the city. A good buddy and I started discussing other options, and he mentioned that his last home had a BMX track that was very popular among families. The conversation started while cooking hamburgers over the grill and ramped into a full-blown idea over s’mores. We researched different tracks, developed a board, obtained our non-profit status and began putting together a cohesive plan in partnership with the City of Enid. The city is graciously providing 80 percent of our starting needs with in-kind donations; however, we are missing one major piece of equipment to make the track an official BMX track: the starting gate. I began looking into various ways to obtain one through grants, donations and sponsorships. I ran across this competition about a week before the application deadline.”

Nelson said the starting gates for BMX races cost anywhere from $6,000 to $15,000 depending on the safety models, and the contest prize put her $2,000 closer to the goal. To date, she has raised $3,500 in donations.

 “There are many people who have been following the journey of Enid BMX, and I believe the community will greatly support this new attraction as well. I will keep looking into other grant options until the gate can be purchased. 

“The board has also agreed that anyone who donates will be recognized on the track fence via large banner advertisements. Major donors will have the opportunity to have their business logos professionally painted on the starting gate itself.”

Nelson is grateful to be a part of the Northwestern-Enid campus because, as a non-traditional student, she was able to attend school with parents where she saw first-hand their concern about their children’s well-being. 

Since Enid BMX, Inc. has already placed in the competition she is not able to re-enter the business for a different year but encourages other students to participate.

“All the advice I can give is what my good buddy once told me, ‘You either do something or you don't’; meaning, if you don't do anything then nothing will happen, but if you do something, something will happen however significant it may be,” Nelson said. “Do your research, work long hours, make plenty of backup plans, practice public speaking, and most importantly utilize your resources at Northwestern. It's amazing how much support comes from peers and professors.”

BMX2016 from Jeff Hoopingarner on Vimeo.

Nelson believes the business classes and opportunities from Northwestern have personally helped her and has advice for students who are just entering their business degree.

“Business is the language of the world,” she said. “I would suggest obtaining an elective credit through the internship program at Northwestern. Internships tie your education into real world work opportunities that help connect the dots by taking what you learn from classroom discussions and putting them into practice; all while gaining the necessary elective credits needed to obtain your degree.

“Northwestern gave me ways to define what I was doing for BMX into business terms so that I would be able to succeed,” Nelson said. “The business model competition was based on many things that I wouldn't have known if I hadn't taken Principles of Management/Marketing and accounting courses.” 

“I am humbled to be a part of a growing attraction in my community as a student of Northwestern,” she said.

Dr. John L. Stockmyer, professor of business at the Enid campus, said Nelson is a thorough student who was great to have in class and knew she had participated in an internship program with the City of Enid. During the week of finals, he was one of the professors who provided feedback on her presentation prior to the competition.

“Sometimes students have big plans and ideas, and we instructors tend to humor the students and write them off,” Stockmyer said. “Well, Ms. Nelson clearly is not your typical dreamer. She worked countless hours learning about BMX, events marketing, economic impact, how the city works, and so on…Her presentation was so good that I made the comment that she shouldn’t change it very much because it was so great already. After watching her presentation, I got the feeling that the city would be lucky to have her bring this opportunity to Enid.”

Stockmyer and other instructors believed in Nelson so profoundly that their hopes were high for her in the competition.

“Finishing fourth out of the many high-quality presentations is a remarkable feat; however, I’m astounded that she didn’t finish number one. If you ask me, and the other business instructors here at the Enid campus, I’m sure we would agree that Jessica Nelson is number one in our book.”

To be eligible for the competition, businesses had to be in the Enid and Northwest Oklahoma area and less than five years old. The competition consisted of three phases: submission of a business plan, a timed presentation and a third presentation in front of a judging panel.

Judges were a diverse group of professionals with experience based in academics, investment, financial institutions, entrepreneurship and business and rated the competitions based on the concept, content and delivery.

Funding for the competition is provided in combined effort by donors in the Enid Entrepreneur Leadership Series.

The link for the commercial Nelson used for Enid BMX, Inc. can be found here: https://vimeo.com/165781438.

For more information on Northwestern’s Division of Business, contact Hawkins, Dr. W. David, division chair and assistant professor of business (580) 327-8440 or wdhawkins@nwosu.edu.

-NW-