Students aim for innovation and profitability at Business Plan Contest

“Award Yourself,” the 2015 New Paltz Business Plan Contest winners. From left: Elizabeth Sydney, Sabrina Reph, Richard Guido

A semester’s worth of preparation culminated April 22 at the SUNY New Paltz Business Plan Contest, when five teams of students presented business plans they had researched and developed this semester.

“We believe that the business plan development and presentation process is of great value to our students,” said Kristin Backhaus, dean of the School of Business. “As I’m sure they will agree, this is not an easy process; it demands creativity, persistence, and resilience. We’re proud of the work our students have done.”

Contest participants had collaborated on business plans throughout the semester as part of “Entrepreneurship and Business Planning,” a course taught each spring by Professor Kevin Caskey.

“The purpose of the course is to offer to our advanced-level business students opportunities to bring their various prior courses together,” Caskey said. “This contest challenges students to work together – not just by sitting around discussing everything as a group, but by dividing the work to make the best use of each team member’s skills.”

For this year’s contest, the School of Business coordinated with the School of Science and Engineering and the Hudson Valley Advanced Manufacturing Center (HVAMC) to incorporate a rapid prototyping and manufacturing theme. Caskey’s students were given introductory instruction in 3D printing and were encouraged to use the exciting new technology in developing their proposals.

The business plans presented included a 3D printing-based custom orthotics manufacturer, a children’s software game focused on urban design and a music production and recording enterprise.

The winning team, “Award Yourself,” was made up of Sabrina Reph ’16 (Pre-MBA), Elizabeth Sydney ’15 (Business Administration) and Richard Guido ’15 (Business Administration), who proposed to use 3D printing technology to provide customers with the ability to design individualized trophies and awards.

“We didn’t realize how involved the design of 3D printed products could be until we worked with the HVAMC to design our prototypes,” Guido said.

“This project was a lot of work, but it was worth it to see our proposal come together,” Reph added.

The panel of judges consisted of Tracy Badgley of Goldstein, Karlewicz & Goldstein, Ed Burke, Jr. of Hudson Valley Financial Group, Steve Deutch of Campus Auxiliary Services, Tom Smiley of the Mohonk Mountain House and David Weinstein of Hudson Heritage Federal Credit Union.

“We have several judging criteria,” Caskey said, “but I would say the most important, aside from the numbers being believable, is that the judges have to get a feeling that the proposal could actually work. And when all other things are equal, the judges will give a little more credit to an idea that’s really exciting.”

This year’s Business Plan Contest was sponsored by Campus Auxiliary Services, Sodexo Food Services, and M&T Bank. More information about the contest is available online.