HUNTINGTON -– A group of three students from Marshall University is among the 10 finalists competing in the 2008 West Virginia's Open for Business – Student Business Plan Competition.

The team that wins the competition, which takes place in April in Morgantown, will receive $10,000 and a package of business resources aimed at helping turn their business plans into reality.

Marshall is represented by a proposed new company called Good Times, which intends to provide an array of candy or mint substitutes.

The team is composed of juniors Matthew Smith of Poca, a Management Information Systems and Finance double major; Daniel Hager of Milton, a Health Care Management major; and sophomore Molly Grove of Bunker Hill, an Advertising and Graphic Design double major.

The team will spend January through March developing business and marketing plans, and making product prototypes. Amy Anastasia, assistant director of Marshall's Technology Transfer Office and Marshall's representative on the competition's oversight committee for the Student Business Plan Competition, said the winning team will be the one judged to be the best on specific criteria.

"The winning team must offer a novel product or service, and a business plan that can expose and market that product in a profitable way," Anastasia said.

Anticipation and excitement are evident among the students, she said.

"I have watched the competition since last year, having learned of it just after the deadline passed in 2006," Smith said. "For a year I stewed on what would be a neat and fun business idea to work toward. For some reason that has always appealed to me."

Smith said he was struck with a fresh idea for a creative new candy-like product.

"We are looking at doing really vibrant flavors," he said. "We are hoping to target young- and middle-aged people whose tastes are changing, and new generations of people a little more open to new things.

"It is cute and fun," he said. "I daydreamed about it instead of paying attention in certain classes that will remain unnamed. Good Times needs some refining, but really the idea is solid, the team is capable, and I have faith that no matter what, we will learn and grow thanks to this experience. I can't wait to enter again next year. Who knows? Winning two years in a row wouldn't be too bad in my mind."

For more information about the 2008 West Virginia's Open for Business – Student Business Plan Competition, visit http://www.be.wvu.edu/bpc/ or contact Anastasia at (304) 696-4365.

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