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Management Major Puts Engines, Entrepreneurship Skills to the Test

Performance has been business management senior Curtis See’s main priority for quite some time now. Not only has he been riding motorcycles and driving cars that he has personally modified for speed and control since he was 16, he is applying that passion and skill to the Nascent 500 Business Plan Challenge.

“It’s very ego-driven and male dominated,” says See of the modified vehicle industry. “It’s all about speed, control and performance. It’s extremely, excessively dangerous, but I like to play a role in what made that engine go that fast.”

See has been through 10 vehicles since he 16, modifying them and selling them for a small profit in a manner similar to flipping houses. His previous experiences in the industry, combined with a minor in entrepreneurship, have led to See’s desire to start a business doing just that.

Hosted by Ball State University’s Entrepreneurship Center, the Nascent 500 is one of the nation’s premiere business plan contests. See was enrolled in Professor Daniel Ferguson’s New Venture Creation course and initially came up with plan for the class assignment. After being prompted by Professor Ferguson to enter the competition, See submitted his plan and advanced into the top 12 in the nation.

“Then,” he says, “it was time to kick into overdrive. Ball State is targeted toward semesters, so I had about half the amount of time to prepare. It wasn’t until about week four of winter quarter that I decided I was really going to exert a lot of effort here.”

See will travel to Indianapolis on March 19 to compete in the challenge. He will get 500 words to earn his “pole position” and 500 seconds (around eight minutes) to pitch his business plan in the backseat of a limousine around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the home of the Indianapolis 500. The top four finishers of that round move on to the final round, and the overall winner receives a victory lap, a traditional quart of milk and $10,000 to put his or her business plan into action.

Though See admits the startup cash is great incentive, he’s “looking at it as going to a quart of milk and represent ONU. Regardless of the outcome, I’m starting this business.”