Entrepreneurs club kicks off business plan competition

Pat Gareau, Creative Editor

Students pitched their “big money ideas” to a panel of judges in the first round of the business plan competition hosted by the Entrepreneurs Club on Thursday, Feb.7.

“One of the main goals of the Entrepreneurs Club is to help prepare students for real world endeavors,” said Adam Gerstenberger, president of the club.

This is the Entrepreneurs Club’s first year putting on the tournament. They hope to be able to help students with their endeavors and make the business plan competition an annual event at Hudson Valley.

The competition is sponsored by Capital Region Photobooths.The first place winner will be awarded $500, second place will receive $300 and third place will receive $200.

Each business plan was evaluated by a panel of three expert judges that have had success in the business world.

The judges were Ryan Busch,  a New York Small Business Development Council advisor, Ajay Vohra, an owner of laundromats and other commercial buildings and Bob Manasseri, who has helped start over 80 ventures as CEO of Infocus Brands.

During Thursday’s first round, seven students each gave a two minute pitch and received feedback from the judges.

Common advice from the judges was to work on getting their first customer.

“Think big, start small,” said Vohra. “Identify customers in the Capital Region.”

Each successive round will demand more detailed business plans and the prospective entrepreneurs will be coached by the experts. After the third round, later this spring, winners will be chosen.

Vacuum sealed produce, a grocery list application, an image consulting agency and a nightclub were among the proposals.

Eric Hough led off the event with a plan to provide exposure for artists with a website. Exposureartwork.com would serve as a one stop webpage and application for artists to share their work, sell it, find exhibits and network.

Student Canaan Santiago’s goal is to rent venues, like parks, for sporting tournaments with entry fees and cash prizes. His business would generate revenue by charging food vendors to rent space. Santiago hopes to transition to a non-profit once he has enough funding, and to help athletes in the area show off their skills to colleges.

Matt Ward separated himself as having a business plan that had already made progress. He has an original sangria recipe that has drawn interest from local businesses for events, such as weddings. Having gained some exposure and potential customers, 21-year-old Ward is hoping to gain business advice and funding for a liquor license so he can sell his “Shameless Sangria” for profit.


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