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Business Plan Competition Puts Student Ideas in Front of Professionals

The School of Business and Economics hosted its third-annual Clinton County Business Plan Competition where student participants pitched new-business ideas to local professionals, Shark-Tank style.

Judges from area companies such as SymQuest, Primelink, African Connection Apparel, and Plattsburgh Animal Hospital and Pet Lodges evaluated the merits of the new ventures based on their commercial viability and potential for positive social impact, according to Dr. Richard Gottschall, assistant professor of marketing and entrepreneurship in the SBE.

The May 4 event, held in Au Sable Hall, featured 27 students presenting 24 ideas that ranged from a social-media consulting business to a safety blanket for pets sleeping in their owners’ beds at night. Of the entries, eight won prizes — awarded to 10 students — ranging from first place of $1,200 to third place and social impact awards of $500 each. Students were broken up into Red Flight Team and Blue Flight Team; each member had 10 minutes to present his or her business plan to judges, with five minutes allotted after for a Q&A with the panel.

Red Flight Team winners and their projects were:

• First Place, $1,200: Bret Nguyen, for a social media site that “shows the true side of school and incites competition among colleges.”
• Second Place, $800: Michael Candelaria, for an integrated GPS device that “allows you to know where your child is while they travel to and from school or two after school activities.”
• Third Place, $500: Alexandra March, for an app called “Watch Out,” which lets users “watch out for your friends. You can check their location, they can send you an alert letting you know they are safe or in trouble.”
• Social Impact Award, $500: Faty Sylla, for an adoption care center for homeless children to “make a difference in this world because one adoption care center can start a chain reaction that can change the world.”

Blue Flight Team winners and their projects were:

• First Place, $1,200: Isaac Anderson, for campaign t-shirts in support of British Commonwealth citizens to have “free movement of people between their countries.”
• Second Place, $800: Claire Derhan and Lorane Lavergne, for “Chit Chat Ride,” a carpooling service that “enables people having a car and people wanting to travel to get in contact.”
• Third Place, $500: Brandon Gobi, for an app for “push notifications connected to retailers in mall locations.”
• Social Impact Award, $500: Claire Derhan and Lorane Lavergne, for their “Chit Chat Ride,” which they also pointed out would reduce auto emissions.

Now in its sixth year, the business plan competition is open to all students in any year and major at SUNY Plattsburgh and Clinton Community College. Sponsors SymQuest, The Development Corporation and Manzini Farm donated a total of $9,000 to support the event, Gottschall said, with $6,000 going toward student awards.

“The remaining funds are used for event-related expenses and funding for participation at the regional and state-wide competitions.”

Judges were:

• Matt Keefe, IT sales account executive, SymQuest
• Joanne Dahlen, director of marketing and business development, The Development Corporation
• Marco Turco, COO, Manzini Farms
• Christopher Minta ’17, CEO, African Connection Apparel
• David Reynolds ’90, document solutions account executive, SymQuest
• Greg MacConnell, president, Primelink
• Mark Dame, business adviser, Small Business Development Center
• Dr. Thomas Brown, Plattsburgh Animal Hospital and Pet Lodges
• Melinda Little, coordinator, Point Positive Inc.

“The competition adds to the entrepreneurial spirit in Clinton County,” Gottschall said. “Many of the ideas presented are heavily influenced by mobile phone related technologies being applied to products, services and artistic activities. It is thought-provoking when experienced business leaders and enthusiastic entrepreneurs discuss these ideas in Clinton County.”

For more information on the Clinton County Business Plan Competition, visit gottscrl.edublogs.edu. Contact Gottschall at 518-564-3159 or email [email protected] for more information on SUNY Plattsburgh’s entrepreneurship program.

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