Students win business plan competition

members of NCPA business plan teamA team of pharmacy students from The University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy has taken first place at a national competition designed to showcase business plans for independent pharmacies.

The 13th Good Neighbor Pharmacy NCPA Pruitt-Schutte Student Business Plan Competition included teams representing 46 schools and colleges of pharmacy across the United States. Each team was invited to submit a written business plan for either buying an existing independent pharmacy or establishing a new one.  Earlier competition narrowed the number of competing teams to three.  The final presentations were made Oct. 15 before a panel of judges and a greater audience of attendees at the annual meeting of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) in New Orleans, La.  Results were announced Sunday, Oct. 16 at the NCPA Opening General Session.

The first-place UT student team includes Brittany Corbell, Taylor Dean, Jennifer Ma, Heather Rozea, and Jigar Satasia.  The team was supported by faculty advisor Dr. Nathan Pope, clinical assistant professor of health outcomes and pharmacy practice, and Dr. M. Lynn Crismon, dean of the UT College of Pharmacy.

First runner up was the University of North Carolina’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy while the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy was named second runner up.

“The success of our student team at the recent NCPA pharmacy business plan competition is the most recent example of the excellence that exemplifies our student pharmacists,” said Dean Crismon.  “Our student pharmacists did an outstanding job of examining the factors necessary to put together a successful business plan for an independent pharmacy, and they presented that plan with polish and professionalism.”

Dr. Nathan Pope, who has been advisor to the college’s NCPA student chapter since 2012, said, “I am proud of each member of the NCPA chapter every day, and I am especially proud today. The five members of the competition team put in countless hours of work on the written plan and additional preparation time leading up to the live competition. They created innovative and sustainable pharmacy services to make their business incredibly successful, and the judges agreed.”

The Longhorn students’ plan was for the fictional Piney Woods Apothecary in Nacogdoches, Texas.  The presentation included specifics such as the company’s vision and mission statements, description of new products and services, a marketing plan, a financial plan, and location analysis, as well as broader demographic studies of the region.

The UT chapter will receive a cash award of $3,000 for their victory while an additional $3,000 will be contributed to the college in the dean’s name to promote independent community pharmacy.  The team members will also receive complimentary registration, travel, and lodging to NCPA’s 2017 Multiple Locations Conference to continue fostering their entrepreneurial spirit and education.

“We commend all the participating teams, but ultimately one team stood out above the rest and was declared the winner – the University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy,” said Bradley J. Arthur, president of NCPA and co-owner of Black Rock Pharmacy and Brighton-Eggert Pharmacy in Buffalo, N.Y.  “With approximately half of small businesses failing within their first five years, these teams of pharmacy students received invaluable experience that increases their chances of being successful pharmacy owners. If these well-thought-out business plans are any indication of the future of independent community pharmacies, then the future is in good hands.”

There are approximately 23,000 independent pharmacies in the United States.