M&S Guitar wins Mayo

The final round of the College’s Mayo Business Plan Competition was held on Wednesday, April 3. Three teams competed for the honor, as well as prize money, totaling $20,000, which was given toward starting each team’s business.

“This is a campus-wide competition,” said William Keep, dean of the Business School. The competition drew in participants from 5 of the College’s schools.

Pfenninger, Seyffart and Matteson win for their guitar-building business. (Nisha Agarwal / Staff Photographer)

The winning team on Wednesday evening was M&S Guitar. The team plans to offer customizable guitars with the same quality sound as many classic designs, but at more affordable prices.

The team stressed that they didn’t want guitar purchasing to have to be based on “the size of a wallet or the excellence of talent.”

The two other teams competing were SurpriseMe and Campus Corner Laundry. SurpriseMe is an app that would allow users to create a profile with their favorite items. Businesses would also have a profile and other users could purchase items for their friends using the app. Campus Corner Laundry is a plan for an on-campus laundry service that would be run out of the Brower Student Center. Students would purchase different plans depending on how frequently they wanted their laundry done.

Each team was required to present their business plan to a panel of judges. The judges were then free to ask the team questions about the finances and operations of the potential company.

The idea for M&S Guitar’s product came from senior mechanical engineering major Alex Matteson. Matteson has been playing guitar since he was nine years old, and making the guitar had been a project he was working on by himself.

“People would come in and out of the machine shop here at the school and I would say, ‘I am doing this, this and this,’” Matteson said. “And enough people said, ‘Hey, why don’t you try entering it in the business plan competition,’ that I figured I would go to the info session.”

From there, Matteson asked two of his closest friends, Tim Pfenninger, junior finance major and James Seyffart, junior accounting major, to join him.

“I got two of my friends who were the best business people I knew, and we put a team together,” Matteson said.

The team plans to grow their business with the $12,000 awarded by the competition. They will work together on the weekends to build guitars that are ordered online as well as guitars they sell at shows.

“The reason why in our business plan we can offer these guitars starting at $900 is because we are in a unique situation,” Matteson said. “The skilled labor is the owner of the company.” The team only needs to sell 18 guitars in the first year in order to be profitable.

Judges told M&S Guitars that they were victorious because it was evident that even if the competition didn’t exist, they would still be working on starting this business. They had the interest and drive.

Next year the business school hopes to raise greater interest in the competition by having a larger monetary award.

“I hope to make things a little more interesting next year,” Keep said, “and I can tell you (the prize money) will not be going down.”

When asked what he learned from the competition, Matteson said, “It isn’t work if you like it. When you are cursing at it at the end of the day, you can step back and say it is still a guitar, and honestly guitars are cool.”