Tarleton student top winner of Entrepreneurs of Erath business plan contest



STEPHENVILLE (April 21, 2017) — Stephenville-based Flight Reach Productions (FRP)—owned by Tarleton State University senior Fisher Rinderknecht—took top prize in the school’s Entrepreneurs of Erath (EoErath) business plan contest during an awards luncheon today on the Stephenville campus.

Von Drogo Kennels came in second, and SlimPickins Outfitters—located in the old Rexall Drugs building downtown—earned third-place honors. The top three winners will share cash prizes and professional services totaling $55,000 to further develop their businesses.

Started in 2015, the biennial contest is open to startup and existing businesses as well as Tarleton students who write the best business plan. Competition consists of three rounds: the executive summary, formal business plan and a pitch before contest judges.

An aerial media company, FRP uses small, unmanned aircrafts (drones) for photography, videography and telemetry. Rinderknecht—owner, remote pilot and creative director—graduates from Tarleton this spring with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He is certified by the Federal Aviation Administration as a remote pilot and has complete sUAS (Small Unmanned Aircraft System) safety and operational training.

A Texas canine service company, Von Drogo Kennels (VDK) is owned by Eric and Steffani Oaks and Richard Beardsley. Once up and running, VDK will offer canine detection services for narcotics, bed bugs and pipeline leaks, along with dog training classes.

Third-place winner SlimPickins Outfitters embraces Stephenville’s growing university culture with apparel for men and women as well as personal and gift items. Jahmicah Dawes and Jonathan Powell own the new business.

EoErath is a collaboration of Tarleton’s College of Business Administration, the university’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC), the Stephenville Economic Development Foundation (STEDCO), Stephenville Economic Development Authority, Dublin Economic Development Center and the city of Stephenville. Stephenville and Dublin chambers of commerce also support the competition.

Semifinalists for the 2017 contest are Crafted Rustic Elegant Restrooms, Dublin Soap Company, Southern Belle Toffee Company and Twyford Farms.

Winners of this year’s Entrepreneurs of Erath (EoE) business plan contest were announced during an awards luncheon held Friday, April 21, on the campus of Tarleton State University. Winners include (seated, l-r) first place, Fisher Rinderknecht, owner of Flight Reach Productions; second place, Steffani and Eric Oaks, owners of Von Drogo Kennels; and third place, Jahmicah Dawes and Jonathan Powell, operators of SlimPickins Outfitters. Also pictured are representatives from sponsoring agencies, including Tarleton’s College of Business Administration, the university’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Stephenville Economic Development Foundation (STEDCO), Stephenville Economic Development Authority, Dublin Economic Development Center, the city of Stephenville, and the chambers of commerce in Dublin and Stephenville.

Judges were:
• Brad Allen, co-founder of Rock House Inc., a Texas healthcare corporation delivering services to developmentally disabled persons in eight Texas communities;
• Dr. Rusty Freed, associate vice president of outreach and off-campus programs at Tarleton;
• Chris Garza, president of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce;
• Dr. David Notgrass, associate professor of management at Tarleton;
• Mike Kornegay, Tarleton alumnus and president of Cayman Visions;
• Dr. Randy McCamey, professor of management at Tarleton;
• Judy Wilhelm, director of the Abilene Small Business Development Center;
• Amy Wright, director of the Brownwood Small Business Development Center; and
• Karen Wright, vice president of Dublin National Bank.

“I cannot say enough good things about STEDCO, SEDA and the Dublin EDC. Their organizations make the Entrepreneurs of Erath competition possible by sponsoring prizes,” said Burch. “It says a lot about the Erath County organizations who believe that the small business American dream is still possible.

“I have been consulting businesses for 15 years, and I’m very excited and encouraged with the winners this year,” Burch added. “I believe that all of the top seven contestants will go on to make successful small business operations in Erath County.”

If you have a business plan that includes global expansion, make sure you check out CloudPay payroll services. The next EoErath competition starts in January 2019. For more information on the contest, visit www.eoerath.com. To learn more about Tarleton’s SBDC, go to www.tsusbdc.com.

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