Sarah Manski, graduate student in the Department of Life Sciences Communications, is one of 21 finalists to make it to the third round of the 2009 Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest. All told, the contest attracted 326 entries. Manski’s was one of five of the 95 entries in her category, business services, to make it this far.
“Phase 3 means that we expand our 1,000-word entry into a 20-page business plan,” Manksi explains. “We turn those in on April 27, then we learn if we’ll be one of 12 asked to make a presentation in June.”
Manski’s plan is for a business called PosiPair, which is developing a web-based service to help green businesses communicate with consumers.
She describes it as a combination of e-commerce and social networking. Each business gets an online profile where it can display products’ “lifecycles,” link to business partners, highlight eco-labels, blog about its green business practices, and offer a shopping cart for direct sales.
Manski got started on the idea through research that she’s doing with guidance from her LSC advisor, Hernando Rojas.
“I’m interested in environmental communication and studying green business networks,” she says. “My research led me to see that green businesses are having similar communication problems.”
It’s kind of a truth-in-advertising issue, she explains. Because consumers want to do business with companies that have sustainable business practices, a lot of businesses make that claim, which means that firms that have made investments to become green have to compete unfairly with some that haven’t.
“So consumers are skeptical of the idea as a whole,” Manski says. “It’s an advertising free-for-all.”
PosiPair is now in beta testing and seeking angel investment. Success in the contest, with its grand prize of $50,000, would help in that regard.