PROVO — Street soccer paraphernalia may be the heart of the next brilliant business plan, according to judges at a student entrepreneur competition Friday at Brigham Young University.
The Business Plan Competition Final Event pitted three teams against each other for a final prize of $52,500 to help the winners launch their dream business. This year's winning team proposed a hybrid company, Calle, which merges the performance and fashion industries by selling clothing and equipment for street soccer.
"We're popularizing street soccer under the name Calle," said Josh Robbins, director of finance for Calle, which means "street" in Spanish. "You don't go out and in-line skate, you Rollerblade. You don't go out and play street soccer, you Calle."
The annual competition, which emerged in its current form seven years ago, begins in October each year. Nearly 600 people attended the kick-off event last fall to learn about how to get involved. Soon after, interested students submitted their plans. A series of rounds follow, lowering the number of participants with each judging.
By the final event each year, only three business plans remain standing. At Friday's competition, the teams presented their ideas to a packed auditorium in the Joseph Smith Building on BYU's campus. Among the crowd were 25 judges, all successful venture capitalists.
The Calle team consists of seven founders, all of whom have experience in soccer, including one Real Salt Lake player. Outfitted in their own Calle-embossed gear — which they have already started to market in nine retail stores across the country — the team explained their business plan and showcased their patented soccer ball.
The ball is made of rubber, enabling it to stand up to usage on rough asphalt better than a traditional leather ball, and it has a cotton "bladder" within to deaden its bounce on concrete.
The team emphasized the potential market for the merchandise.
"Soccer is, by far, the world's most popular sport," Robbins said.
In fact, Calle products have generated $40,000 in revenue since September.
This year's second-place team proposed a business called True Counsel, which would provide inexpensive legal documents via the Internet. There's a high demand for this service, co-founder Jared Richards said.
"A recent study on LexisNexis shows two-thirds of all adult Americans don't have a will," said Richards, a second-year law student at BYU.
Many individuals avoid obtaining legal documents, like wills, because they don't know how to do it themselves and don't want to pay an attorney's fee, Richards said. Although Web sites that provide legal documents already exist, the founders said they aren't reliable. True Counsel would use the services of real lawyers to ensure accuracy.
"We're making high-quality documents available at an affordable cost for the very first time," said co-founder Kurt Avarell, also a second-year law student.
Avarell and Richards received a check for $35,000 to aid in building their business.
The third-place team, Mobile OX, provides Internet users with their own personalized domain names. The team already has users in 15 different countries as well as some closer to home, including BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall.
Mobile OX owns more than 4,500 domain names, and users simply pick which one they would like to place after their name. For example, one of the company's founders uses the domain "James.lovesmegan.com." It's free to sign up for a personal domain, so founders forecast most of their revenue will come through selling space for advertisements that would appear as links on the user's screen.
The company won $15,000.