Fourth Annual Kenneth A. Freirich Business Plan Competition underway: Students will compete for over $25,000 to help kickstart their own businesses

Posted by Julia Leef '14

The semester has been busy for the 47 students participating in the fourth annual Kenneth A. Freirich Business Plan Competition, which is designed to help students develop and execute their own business plans with over $25,000 in prize money.

Freirich is a member of the Class of 1990 and president of Health Monitor Network. He started his first business as an undergraduate and returned as the College's first entrepreneur-in-residence in October 2010, challenging students to present new business ideas. Their presentations and ideas inspired him to launch a full-fledged business plan contest to support student innovation.

Participants will undergo a total of four workshops this semester before the submission date on Wednesday, Jan. 22, which will cover writing a business plan, using a business canvas model and a four-part workshop on business financials that will take place in December. These workshops, according to Management & Business Lecturer Paula A. Tancredi Penman, are to help participants who are not business majors take advantage of all the resources available to them for this competition.

"This is not for business majors only, it is for all students to try and compete," Tancredi, who took over as a coordinator for the competition in September, said. "The resources are so amazing for these students."

Tancredi said she first became acquainted with Freirich in her two years of consultation work for the Health Monitor Network. Although she has been present for the last three competitions, this year marks her first official involvement in it.

There are 31 total intents to compete in this year's competition, according to Tancredi, who noted that there seem to be more students working together than in previous years. Business plans this year vary from a way to find the best local bakeries and coffee shops as rated by professional bakers to gaining financial support for students otherwise unable to go to college, customized clothing and matching students' creative services with small, local businesses.

Last year's winner, Sam Schultz '13, used his prize money to create a placement service that will match Chinese youths with residential summer campus in the Northeast. He is currently living in China and running his program. Runner-ups Alexander Nassief '16 and Brianna Barros '16 established the Dominican-based Rum Dogs, Inc., and used their prize money to "implement a proprietary method for aging rum in barrels submerged in the Caribbean Sea and produce a premium brand, called Black Cap Rum, for the Dominican market," according to the College website.

Throughout the competition, participants will have access to help from alumni and current faculty, including Larry Peck '92, who met with the competitors to speak about "The Investor's Mind." Management & Business Executive in Residence Colleen A. Burke and Visiting Associate Professor for Management & Business David Marcinko are both running workshops this semester. Tancredi emphasized the good that attending these workshops will do for students, even if they do not make it to the final round.

"There are so many professors and faculty and staff who lend their time to this in ways I don't even know how in order to help these students and I'm so grateful for it," Tancredi said. Competitors also received aid from Communications and the Advancement Office, which works with Freirich to form the judging panels.

The judging panels consist of Freirich himself and six experts, primarily alumni, who will then go on to mentor the six finalists. These experts will include entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, accountants, lawyers, executives and members of the Department of Management and Business.

"The entrepreneurial spirit at Skidmore amazes me," Tancredi said. "And the fact that there are so many opportunities on campus--this competition is just one of them--you can get so much real experience, and I think this is one of those premiere experiences that students have access to."

The presentation of the first round projects will be at 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 7 at the Tang Teaching Museum. From these participants, six will be chosen to revise their plans for the final presentation on Friday, April 11.

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