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Shepherd students competing in final round of statewide business competition in April

ISSUED: 2 December 2014
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Two Shepherd University students came away winners in the semi-final round of the ninth annual West Virginia Collegiate Business Plan Competition that took place at Shepherd Friday, November 21. Raphael Capelli and Alex Whalton earned the opportunity to compete in the final competition on April 10, 2015, at West Virginia University.

The competition is open to students who are registered full-time in a West Virginia four-or two-year college. The students formed teams of one to three members that formulated plans to create a business that will operate in the state. There are three categories: Lifestyle and Innovation; Hospitality and Tourism; and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

Capelli, from São Paulo, Brazil, is a senior business major who plans to enter Shepherd’s Master in Business Administration program in the spring. His proposed business, entered in the Lifestyle and Innovation category, is a language learning company called Chameleon Kids, LLC. Capelli said he was inspired to start his business after he moved to the United States about four years ago and quickly needed to learn to speak English.

“I understand the importance of learning a second language and how beneficial it is within the business environment to be fluent on another language,” Capelli said. “The business I presented at the competition is a subscription-based program that is designed for young children.”

Capelli said Chameleon Kids will provide Spanish lessons through hands-on activities and online videos. The activities, which will be mailed to families, are designed to stimulate learning another language and culture, including music, geography, and more.

“It’s a fun, family-learning program that prepares kids for the future,” Capelli said. “Chameleon Kids offers the opportunity for children to become bilingual, to eliminate their accent when speaking a second language, and to prepare them to participate in a multilingual society.”

Whalton is a senior Regent Bachelor of Arts major from Hedgesville. His company, No Drift Reality, LLC, entered in the STEM category. It develops and publishes virtual reality software to entertain, teach, and heal. Whalton said the company will provide many different life experiences in the safety and comfort of a virtual world.

“While we focus mainly on video games, we see a great potential for this technology to aid in the therapy of a variety of psychiatric situations such as PTSD and will develop philanthropic software solutions for the health care industry,” Whalton said.

Whalton is excited that his company is advancing to the next round.

“The opportunity provided to me is amazing and a wonderful confirmation that my idea has a future,” Whalton said. “The next few months will be intense as I prepare myself, and the company, for the final stage of the competition and build the company simultaneously.”

Both students are in the Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation course taught by Dr. Caroline Glackin, the Edward L. Snyder Chair in business administration.

“We are excited to have finalists in both categories,” Glackin said. “Raphael and Alex have worked diligently to create viable business opportunities, and I look forward to coaching them as they endeavor to bring their dreams to reality.”

Whalton and Capelli will be among 15 students from across the state in the final competition. For winning the semi-final round each receives a $1,000 prize to help them develop a business plan for the final competition. They also have the opportunity to attend a “business bootcamp” at WVU, take a free online course from WVU, be assigned a mentor, and obtain accounting and legal assistance.

During the finals in April they will be required to submit a complete business plan and make a financing pitch to a panel of judges. Winners in each category of the final competition will receive a $10,000 prize to start their businesses in West Virginia.

The West Virginia Collegiate Business Plan Competition is hosted by the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics and is managed by the BrickStreet Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. For more information, contact Glackin at or visit

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