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Springboard finalists announced

The first-place team will win $10,000 and office space
The Springboard Business Plan Competition, a yearlong contest for students who want to develop business plans, announced its finalists and will reveal its winners next month. 
Since Project Springboard is open to any student, Project Director Amy Doering said steps have been taken to encourage students of all majors to participate.
“For example, if we have someone in education and health sciences, we try to pair them up with someone in the college of business that has some of the business writing skills already learned,” she said.
Doering said participants not only learn how to write a business plan after they have developed a product for service, but receive advice and a significant amount of real world experience.
Project Springboard is a yearlong process that begins in the fall with students attending a discussion where they introduce themselves and share their ideas with one another. 
“Officially, there is a letter of intent due in October they need to submit with their company name and their members,” Doering said.
From there on, a notification of acceptance leads to workshops, plan submissions, and a finalist selection presentation to the judges, according to the project’s Web site.
This year’s finalists include: Bye on Life, Learning Curbs, Paws Giving Independence, The Students Fund, U Exchange and Vector.
The competition is concluded with an awards dinner held in late April where winners will be recognized. 
Teams placing in first, second and third places receive cash awards along with mentoring from business leaders and entrepreneurs.
Doering said if the first-place team takes up the whole sponsorship package, meaning starting its business, they get an added $15,000 in seed capital they can spend on their expenses.
The first place team, in addition to their initial cash prize of $10,000, will receive office space, an automobile, logo, business cards, work with experienced venture capitalists, marketers, lawyers and insurance advisors to fully expand its business.
Overall, Doering said the estimate the first place winner receives is over $120,000 in value.
Past successes include iRepair Squad, formally iPod Repair Squad, which took first place in 2007.
“They went into business, have continued to stay in business [and] last year when they came to visit they were $1,000,000 in their first six months,” Doering said.
The 2008 winner, Memwas, formerly Les Memoires, is currently looking at specific markets to launch big campaigns and will make an appearance at this year’s awards dinner.
Project Springboard plans on expanding in the next upcoming year from a local competition to one that attracts entrepreneurs from a regional area to ensure that new business continues to benefit and grow while remaining Peoria-based.
“We’re confident that the new entities that emerge from this competition will represent some of Peoria’s most talented people and successful businesses,” the Project Springboard Web site says.
“I encourage any student to participate, look for information around campus, and start thinking of your ideas now [for next year]. It’s such a great experience for students,” Doering said.