Posted by Julia Leef
Preparations have begun for the second Kenneth A. Freirich Business Plan Competition, open to all enrolled students of any year or major. The competition offers at least $25,000 in cash and business services for the students who write the best business plans.
"I am really excited for the 2011-12 competition," said Freirich, a member of the class of 1990 and current president of Health Monitor Network, for whom the competition is named.
Freirich, who started his own business as a sophomore, began this competition when he returned to the college as its first Entrepreneur in Residence. "Last year was amazing. I got inspired by the incredible creativity, growth and learning that took place with all of the student teams that entered the competition, regardless of how they fared."
Last year the prizes for the winners totaled $17,500 and were distributed between the first, second, and third place teams. Trevor Mengel '11 and Samuel Brown '12, who took first place, used their winnings to help them develop Slingshot, which, according to ScopeOnline, is "a website interface and smartphone application that enables users to quickly join or organize pick-up games of any sort."
The success of this competition led to its renewed sponsor by Freirich along with alterations that allow for broader participation among students.
"We want to see more submissions from students who are majoring in departments outside of Management and Business," said Tim Harper, chair of Management and Business. "We want to encourage creative students in all fields to develop their entrepreneurial potential."
Students will have four months to develop their plans, and must submit them by Jan. 25. In order to help students along, Roy Rotheim, professor of economics and coordinator of the competition, has recruited senior students from the Skidmore-Saratoga Entrepreneurial Partnership to conduct weekly workshops, which will be mandatory for the participants.
Alumni mentors will also aid finalists, who will be announced in early February, to prepare for their final presentations on April 13. These finalists will be determined by a panel of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, accountants, lawyers, executives and members of the Department of Management and Business.
"My goal in this competition continues to be to foster entrepreneurship and create real operating businesses," Freirich said. "I don't want this to be just an academic exercise. I know this can be a life-changing experience for students."
Students may either work by themselves or in a team, and the prizes will enable students to start new businesses or to help them further develop existing ones. Students must declare their interest by October 10 through an "intent to compete" form, which will have them describe the basics of their business plan and list team members.
Students who are interested should attend an informational meeting on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Palamountain 202. Freirich will be among those in attendance.