Marshall pair takes first place at Business Plan Competition

May 8, 2019

Marshall University students Aaron Simon and Ashley Hoskins finished first in the “Lifestyle and Innovation” category at the West Virginia Business Plan Competition finals held in Fairmont, West Virginia, recently.

The competition was hosted by the BrickStreet Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at West Virginia University.

In the 13 years that the West Virginia Business Plan Competition has been conducted, this is believed to be the first time a Marshall University entry has taken a top prize, according to Marshall.

Simon, a marketing major from Spencer, West Virginia, and Hoskins, a double major in nursing and exercise science from Walton, West Virginia, formed a new venture named “Farm to Fork Meat Processing” that is aimed at providing a better means for harvesting and processing animals.

The pair intends to utilize a federally approved mobile unit that allows animals to be harvested and processed in a manner that minimizes trauma, improves safety and increases yield on the harvested meat.

For the new venture and process, Simon and Hoskins received a $10,000 first-place award. In addition, ZinnStarter contributed an additional $2,000 to the pair, raising their total award to $12,000. The award will be put to use in furthering the business venture, such as purchasing equipment and marketing the venture throughout the region.

Simon and Hoskins said they were excited by the first-place finish, and said they are looking forward to continuing the hard work that had carried them to victory at the competition.

“Farm to Fork Meat Processing LLC is a unique and more ethical way of processing animals. What makes us unique from conventional meat processors is that we travel to the producer to process the animal,” Hoskins said. “We will be able to be mobile by using a USDA-certified trailer that is equipped with all necessary processing equipment that meets the standards of the NSF (National Sanitation Foundation). This mobile processing unit will alleviate many problems that producers face when taking their animals to be processed.”