Clay student's plan wins at ND

Author: Jennifer Ochstein

SOUTH BEND -- First, John Baxmeyer got angry. Then he did something about it.

The result was a business proposal that won the Clay High School junior the 2006 Notre Dame Invention Convention Youth Business Plan Competition and the top prize of $500.

He outlasted four other high school finalists for the prize with his Service Shoppers plan.

The Service Shoppers plan, presented to four University of Notre Dame student judges, entails buying goods and services for senior citizens and disabled people so they are not overcharged or duped into buying goods they don't need.

Baxmeyer said he got the idea for Service Shoppers after he learned that an elderly family friend was paying more for goods and services than what his family thought appropriate.

During his presentation, Baxmeyer said that one woman was given a quote of $4,800 for tree removal. His family was able to find a bid of $1,500.

"She got ripped off," Baxmeyer said during a break when the judges were making their final decisions.

And he was none too thrilled about the woman being overcharged.

Service Shoppers would do the shopping for folks for a 5 percent service fee, which would still cost the Service Shoppers customer less in the long run.

Despite the philanthropic nature and uniqueness of his business plan, Baxmeyer said he didn't expect it to get as far as it did.

He said he had to split time among his school work, extracurricular activities and business plan.

But Baxmeyer, along with the other finalists, worked with mentors, Notre Dame students who are enrolled as finance, business, economics and accounting majors.

Eric Christiansen, a junior finance major, was Baxmeyer's mentor. He said before Baxmeyer's presentation that he enjoyed watching the Service Shoppers plan evolve and grow over time.

And even though he had the mentorship help, Baxmeyer said his project had a rough start, which is why he didn't expect it to come as far as it did.

He said a business plan takes dedication. Information in the plan must be backed up, and if it can't be backed up, you're back at square one.

That happened to him. He had to re-work his plan three to four times.

Other finalists included:

Sean Behensky, 17, a junior at Clay High School, presenting his "A Hit To Success" plan;

Thomas Langhofer, 18, a senior at Washington High School, presenting his "Speedy Chess Tournaments" plan;

Hugo Raygoza, 18, a senior at Washington High School, presenting his "J.A. Poultry" plan; and

Tracey Richmond, 15, a freshman at Adams High School, presenting her "Tracey's Cleaning Business" plan.

Behensky took second place in the competition, winning $300; Langhofer won third place and $200; Raygoza and Richmond won honorable mentions, according to Jessica McManus Warnell, program manager and instructor with the Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame.

McManus Warnell said all five students will be traveling to New York April 24-26 for the entrepreneurship field trip. The students will visit the 13th annual "Salute to the Entrepreneurial Spirit," sponsored by the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship.

The students, she said, also will visit landmarks, tour the Wall Street business district and meet other students from the NFTE programs. The trip is sponsored by the Robinson Community Learning Center and is supported by the Notre Dame Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.

"All five of the finalists have the option to continue to develop their business plans, and work toward implementation, through the Robinson Enterprises program," McManus Warnell said. "This new program of the RCLC is designed to incubate small, youth-led businesses by providing technical and other support."