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Business Plan Competition Tests Students’ Ingenuity

Prototype for wipe that takes care of pet nose prints on glass wins first place

Like a grander version of the popular TV program “Shark Tank,” Sacred Heart University’s Jack Welch College of Business recently staged its own Business Plan Presentation Competition. It featured student teams pitching their business concepts to an expert judging panel of investors and business owners. The friendly, though intense, event took place at SHU’s Frank and Marisa Martire Business & Communications Center.

After viewing poster presentations at the start of the competition, students and judges migrated to the Martire Forum for the business plans. The nine presenting teams had an average of five students each, for a total of nearly 50 presenters. Each business plan had to include such criteria as financial data, target market, cost of goods sold, manufacturing costs, development, marketing and fixed costs such as salaries and production.

Five experts from the business community served as judges: LaCinna Arnold, Peter Engstrom, Leo Giglio, Min Kim and Bruce Silverstone. After the first five teams completed their presentations, there was a break and then the four remaining teams took their turns. Finally, the judges announced the top three teams and the poster session winners.

Team 3, led by student Steven Trumbull, presented a concept called “EmployMe,” essentially a job application platform for entry-level, hourly positions. Trumbull, whose ultimate “dream job” is to market for an MBA team, said he birthed the concept as a result of his own frustration searching for jobs. Adjunct Instructor David Murray helped by assembling the team and giving the students a good base of knowledge in business, according to Trumbull.

Trumbull’s teammate, Emma Costello, added, “Professor Murray showed us what it takes to create a business. We were nervous presenting at first, but we had built up a certain level of confidence presenting in class. We ultimately had fun doing it, and our hard work paid off.” Costello is seeking a career in business management.

Team 4, led by Clay Sweitzer, developed a concept called “PerfTurf,” a cost-effective way to clean and disinfect artificial turf. Sweitzer initiated the idea, and then the group created the cleaning method using a vacuum device. “It was a challenge to find a way to differentiate our product,” said Sweitzer, who aims to own his own business. “I’m interested in the sports field. I can 100 percent apply what I have learned here. You’re actually doing what you would do in the real business world. We did everything but manufacture the product. Our product actually could be developed.”

Team 1 did develop a product prototype. Called “NoNose,” it’s a wipe that repels pets who try to press their noses against windows, which results in dirty nose prints. The wipe cross-functions as a disinfectant.

Team 8’s concept was “TextChange,” a knowledge and resources sharing network platform for college students. Team member Riley Williams spoke about the time that went into preparing the presentation. “We worked on this for three-and-a-half months. Our teacher, Tom Coughlan, was extremely qualified to help us practice our presentation skills.”

Tuvana Rua, assistant professor in the business college’s management department, said all the presenters were passionate and excited. “This is not their first business class, and they are starting to get a feel for their strengths and solidify their ideas about their majors,” she said.

Judge Kim, a self-described entrepreneur and investor who has seen a “ton” of presentations during her career, said she was impressed by the caliber of ideas. “They were really polished, too, in presenting. Some students had a real go-to-market strategy that was realistic and well thought out,” Kim said.

Winning Teams:

1st Place: “NoNose,” coached by Assistant Professor Tuvana Rua. Concept: described above. Team members: Kevin Carman (TA), Brian Kiesche, Anthony Christian, Gabrielle Coumou, Victoria Cutrone, Matt Day, Joseph LaRocca and Karlie Walter.

2nd Place: “ConvinBox,” coached by Associate Professor Grace Guo. Concept: convenient vending machines for college campuses that provide basic toiletries. Team members: Denisse Rodriguez, Brianna E. Kelley, Gina E. D’Amico, Madeline R. Gargano, Maria Koch and Ramzi A. Kraytem.

3rd Place: “Textchange,” coached by Adjunct Instructor Thomas Coughlan. Concept: described above. Members: Robert Garbuio, Brendan Coffey, Riley Williams, Olivia Millard, Thomas Coughlin and Anubhav Dhar.

Poster Session Winners:

Best Product: “CawliPark,” an app that connects college students and local homeowners as an alternative solution to parking issues. Team members: Robert Allingham, Ryan Judge, Christian Lloyd, Finn Longval, Austin Mcllmurray and Zachary Tsekos. Faculty: Assistant Professor Tuvana Rua.

Best Service: “Zeus’ Way,” a Mediterranean-style food truck. Team members: Santiago Suarez, Luylly Estrada Atemiz, Nicholas Bourque and Christopher Lora. Faculty: Adjunct Professor Jon Krchnavy.

Best Business Idea: “Sheezy Parking,” a system to help students and faculty find parking spots easily and efficiently. Team members: Brooke Jenney, Theodore Mitchell, Brittany Richards, Brandon Ricketts, Kayla Sullivan and Sarah Taylor. Faculty: Adjunct Professor Joshua Moritz.

Most Esthetic Poster: “Beach Bum Beach Shack,” a convenient and affordable place from which to rent beach equipment. Members: Jenna Wilson, Amanda Bannerman, Jenna Malichek, Jordan Lombardi and Briana Dasilva. Faculty: Associate Professor Grace Guo.