Matthew Ward takes prize in final round of business plan competition

Tyler McNeil, Staff Writer

Matthew Ward, a 21-year-old entrepreneurship major, went home with $500 after winning the final round of Hudson Valley’s Business Plan Competition.

Ward won the judges over on Apr. 1 with his pitch for a low-calorie sangria mixture called “Shameless Sangria.”

Shameless Sangria was incorporated on Apr. 19, 2013 Alyson Ward, the mother of the finalist.

The Domestic Limited Liability Company is currently located in Altamont, but in 10 years, Ward predicts his product will be “going national.”

“[Shameless Sangria] transforms ordinary gatherings into a memorable event,” said Ward. “Our mission is to create a unique refreshment that you can savor with your favorite people.”

These mixtures have a 77 percent reduction in calories over regular sangria mixtures.

One obstacle Ward is currently facing from selling and marketing Shameless Sangria is a state liquor license.

The competition, hosted by the Entrepreneur’s Club, allowed amateur entrepreneurs to conduct business pitches to potential investors.

The judging panel consisted of Ajay Vohra, a consultant, local business owner and Capital Region entrepreneur, Ryan Busch, SEED Program Coordinator at New York Small Business Development Council advisor and Robert Manasseri, CEO of Infocus Brands and  President of IFP Films.

The final five participants, Matthew Ward, Canaan Santiago, Sandy Goyer, Anna Dawson and Eric Hough, were each given 10 minutes to pitch their ideas and 10 minutes for the judges to question their visions.

Canaan Santiago, who pitched a non-profit organization called “2Live,” came in second place in the competition, winning $300.

2Live focuses on giving local communities organized sporting events including basketball, soccer and tennis for adults ages 18 to 25.

“After 18, you can’t really get involved with sports anymore unless you’re in intramural leagues or collegiate leagues. [2Live would] showcase the Capital Region’s athletic talent,” said Santiago.

Santiago has already talked to Jamz 96.3 and has hung up posters at local high schools and gyms to promote 2Live. He also talked with the City of Troy to host the organization’s first event from May 23 to 24.

$200 went to third place winner, Sandy Goyer, creator of “Confidently Yours,” a social networking membership group that allows women to gain confidence through workshops.

Workshops include: “You look great: Skincare for every age,” “Spring has sprung so let’s get that new wardrobe going,” Zumba, yoga, painting and car maintenance. All the skincare and cosmetic workshops would be free to members.

“My goal is to make sure my girls get into the world confidently,”said Goyer. “It came to me to give the opportunity to give many other women some things to learn throughout their daily lives.”

Members would be charged a monthly fee as well as startup fees.

72-year-old Anna Dawson presented Hometown Foods, LLC, a vacuum packaged and frozen alternative to preserving food.

Dawson attended Cornell University in 1958 where she was introduced to vacuum packaging, but her idea came much more recently.

“This inspired me about five years ago. This is our answer to healthy foods produced by local people,” said Dawson.

When she retired from teaching, Dawson went to work on an organic farm. With a surplus of food available from her work on an organic farm, she moved to freezing and vacuum sealing foods.

The 72-year old claims her main following are former students she instructed at Ichabod Crane High School. One of Dawson’s former students currently works as a business consultant for Hometown Foods, LLC.

On Mar. 2, Dawson proposed Hometown Foods, LLC to be sold at Stewart’s Shops.

Judges questioned Dawson’s marketing strategy and she responded by stating that her business plan was “unfinished.” Prices were also questioned for Dawson’s product proposal.

Eric Hough gave the last pitch in the final round of the competition. He envisions launching “Brilliant Art,” a social media site mainly featuring upcoming graphic artists and photographers looking to promote their work.

Hough said, “When the live feed is active, there will be a unique opportunity for businesses to commision artists to do unique pieces and companies will day to have it recur in the live feed.”

Hough would also like to work on a community level with scholarship opportunities to “schools like Hudson Valley.”

A directory notification system would calculate any distance between the member and any local art gallery.

“I will always market quantity over quality. I know Brilliant Art when I see it,” said Hough. “This will only be for the most talented artists I can find.”

There are already about 10 to 20 artists in the area looking to put their work on “Brilliant Art.”

“They came in with an idea and its been really tremendous watching their growth,” said Mather.