Posted April 29, 2013

Neighborhood Foods wins top prize at 2013 Be Your Own Boss Bowl

Neighborhood Foods, an urban farming business based in West Philadelphia that aims to unite communities, won the grand prize at the 15th annual Be Your Own Boss Bowl, a university-wide business plan competition at Temple.

Founded by recent Fox School of Business graduate Dylan Baird, Neighborhood Foods took home more than $125,000 in cash, professional services and products during the April 25 finalist presentations in the Fox School’s Alter Hall.

“I’m grateful,” Baird said after winning the top prize. “I’ve had a series of great opportunities through being at Temple, including running into the entrepreneurship program and finding out about this huge business plan competition.”

Baird’s organization provides a weekly service that helps farmers manage their risks. Customers pay a fee at the beginning of the growing season and receive a box of local produce each week. Baird also has partnered with other local organizations to provide bread, honey and coffee delivery.

In addition to the weekly service, Neighborhood Foods’ products are available at local farmers markets, including those located in food deserts — areas without access to fresh food — to help make healthy living possible for people at every income level.

Winners were awarded in the undergraduate track, social impact track and graduate, alumni, faculty and staff track. Category prizes for best-written plan by a woman, best-written plan by a minority and best-written clean-technology plan were also presented.

The annual Be Your Own Boss Bowl is the flagship program of Temple’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI). In Fall 2012, Baird won the Nancy and Bill Baxter Social Impact Award at the Innovative Idea Competition, another competition hosted by the IEI.

The Be Your Own Boss Bowl is one of the most lucrative and comprehensive business plan competitions in the country. This year, out of 96 total submissions, nine business plans representing six of Temple’s 17 schools and colleges were selected as finalists, and four of those were revised and resubmitted plans from prior years. They competed for $200,000 in cash prizes, products, professional services and incubation space.

On the same day, Temple celebrated its first Entrepreneurship Day. Vice President of Student Affairs Theresa Powell designated April 25 a day to “highlight the importance of entrepreneurship to this generation of Temple students.” The recognition kicked off with an open house and idea-coaching session at the IEI in Alter Hall, followed by the Temple Entrepreneurial Student Association’s Tower Takeover, a flea-market style event featuring student and local entrepreneurs

At the conclusion of the Be Your Own Boss Bowl, IEI awarded Victory Brewing Company co-founder Bill Covaleski the Inaugural Self Made and Making Others Award for his support of entrepreneurial activities. Covaleski is an alumnus of Temple’s Tyler School of Art.

For the fourth year, the IEI awarded the Chris Pavlides Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award to a graduating senior. Entrepreneurship and marketing major Candace Kilstein is the 2013 recipient.

The Be Your Own Boss Bowl receives support from more than 500 senior executives and entrepreneurs, who serve as judges, mentors and coaches.

— Kyra Mazurek