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Marshall’s Lewis College of Business hosts 2024 Business Model Competition finals

Marshall University hosted the finals of the of the sixth installment of the West Virginia Innovation and Business Model Competition (WVIBMC) April 9 in the Encova Auditorium of the Brad D. Smith Center for Business and Innovation.

Nine teams representing four West Virginia colleges and universities participated in the finals, including Marshall University, West Virginia Wesleyan College, Shepherd University and West Virginia University. Each institution and its teams walked away with at least $1,000 in funding for the proposed new ventures.

The WVIBMC judging panel awarded the top prize (minimum of $3,000) to the Marshall University partnership of C.J. Fazio and Dom Konopka, representing the new venture Konaz, a new ice cream option infused with high protein for the health conscious. Fazio is from Easton, Pennsylvania, and is pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree with a major in Entrepreneurship. Konopka is from Medina, Ohio, and is also pursuing a BBA degree with a major in Management. Fazio and Konopka are also members of the Marshall University football program.

The second-place prize (minimum $2,000) was awarded to West Virginia University’s Nola Todd. Todd pitched a vegetarian-menu as a healthy food truck option named Goldenrod Breakfast Co. The third-place prize (minimum $1,000) was awarded to Brittany McKnight of Shepherd University for the concept of Sagittarius Esthetics that focuses on personal care, including skin and nails.

The fourth-place prize (minimum $750) was awarded to Jonathan Hale of Marshall University for the concept named SleepyPause that conceives of an app to assist in restarting your streaming video at the moment you fall asleep. Hale is pursuing a BBA degree with a major in Management. Hale is from Putnam County, West Virginia.

For reaching the finals, five teams are guaranteed a minimum of $500, including Tyriek Crutchfield and Elisha Taylor, each separately representing West Virginia Wesleyan College, Miguel Aguilar and Daniel Goodavich representing Shepherd University, Dustin Redden of West Virginia University, and Bella Schrader representing Marshall University.

In total, the 2024 WVIBMC organizers awarded over $9,000 in funding to be used in furtherance of the presented new venture opportunities.

The panel of judges had an aggregate of 100 years of business experience. Panelists included: Mary Hott (Innovation Technology Program for the West Virginia Small Business Development Center), Bill Woodrum (Benedum Foundation), and Kaylin Jorge and Kathy Thomas, both with the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

The WVIBMC was organized and hosted by Marshall University (Brad D. Smith Schools of Business, the Lewis College of Business, and the Entrepreneurship Education program). As part of the 2024 WVIBMC campaign, the four participating institutions hosted campus qualifying events that resulted in at least two automatic qualifiers advancing to the April 9 finals event. In particular, business model development entails customer interaction and feedback for more accurate decision-making.

“The idea is to develop a business model validated through customer feedback and field research,” said Marshall University Provost Avinandan “Avi” Mukherjee. “The competition rewards new ventures for utilizing a canvas to track hypothesis validation or elimination. And through this methodology, we hope to promote new business ventures among university students and encourage innovation and building of new venture organizations of all sizes to serve the greater West Virginia economical ecosystem.”

For additional information about the WVIBMC, including information on joining this movement and participating in future events, please contact Olen York at or visit

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