Posted by Marcella Jewell
On April 13, Matthew Miron '13 and Isaiah Crossman '13 were awarded $10,000 for winning first place in this year's Kenneth A. Freirich Business Plan Competition for their social media application "Grumbul."
Using the prize money, in addition to $20,000 from other sources, the two plan to spend this summer in New York City, developing and testing Grumbul, which they hope will revolutionize how customers register complaints with companies.
"The competition gave each of the students the opportunity to take what for them were nascent ideas and turn them into solid and coherent business models," said Roy Rotheim, professor of economics and director of the competition.
Throughout a 10-week workshop, the groups received assistance from Freirich, and Ali Frey '12 and Todd Powell '12, of the Skidmore-Saratoga Entrepreneurial Partnership. Each group worked to revise its business plan to present for judging on Friday, April 13, to a panel of seven alumni.
"Working with each of the students in the competition is enormously fulfilling to me as an educator," Rotheim said. "There is nothing more important to me than to make even the smallest contribution to helping someone pursue their passions. It is yet another reason why Skidmore is such a special place where creative thought really does matter."
Miron and Crossman were among nine students who competed in the finals of this year's competition. Students were paired with alumni working in their field of interest to submit a business proposal in hopes of winning prize money to further their efforts.
Miron and Crossman pitched their proposal as the "first universal customer-service application with full continuity from complaint through action and resolution."
Crossman said his motivation for the app came last summer when he received a bad meal at a restaurant and wanted to complain, but without the hassle. He said he thought of using an iPhone application to provide an instant outlet for complaints.
Miron and Crossman said that they are aiming for a full release in Saratoga Springs before they graduate in May of 2013 and plan to expand more broadly shortly there after.
In addition to Miron and Crossman, Zachary Fagiano '13 and Hope Schwartz-Leeper '13 won the second-place prize of $5,000 for their plan. They created Wellfleet Sea Salt Company, which harvests sea salt with a new low-cost and economically friendly technology.
Hattie Young '12 won the third-place prize of $2,500 to develop the Chicago-based Rephrase Dance Collective, a professional dance company that uses a flash-mob style to bring dance to the public.
The Kenneth A. Freirich Business Plan Competition is open to all students, regardless of major or year. Contributions from alumni advance the entrepreneurship opportunities for students, and the alumni themselves serve as mentors throughout the entirety of the competition.
"The capacity to be entrepreneurial is in each of us, no matter what our background or education," Rotheim said. "Executing that passion is a different matter because it takes excruciatingly hard-word and tenacity to make the intuitions convert into something meaningful."