Creative Thought Becomes Creative Action in Annual Business Competition
On February 24, the annual Kenneth A. Freirich Business Plan Competition will take place in Zankel’s Filene Hall. For the past seven years, this competition has given students the opportunity to take control over their educational experience by developing their own business proposals.
Entering the competition is a valuable undertaking. Not only do students compete for a cash prize, but they also are given exposure to alumni/parent networks in the business realm. These Skidmore community members who act as judges in the competition give students valuable advice regarding their business ideas. What the students do not receive, however, is any form of academic credit. As Roy Rotheim, Economics Professor and Competition Chair, puts it, “for them it is a passion, a labor of love, that drives them to work indefatigably for the sake of that passion.”
The competition hosts a diverse spectrum of students in terms of majors and interests. “Being quintessentially ‘Skidmore’, our goal in this competition is to draw from the broadest spectrum of students, from all classes, all majors, etc.,” Rotheim explained.
“I still remember one of the winners in the first competition, a neuroscience major who made cupcakes to die for,” Rotheim continued. “Another finalist, an art major, proposed a business that sold cookies and milk from a truck in Chicago. In both cases, the students were gifted bakers but knew nothing about what it meant to run a business. Another finalist, an English major, proposed to start her own record company. She, too, knew nothing about the inner working of a business model and business plan. We changed that! Our goal in the competition is to work under the modus operandi of ‘turning creative thought into creative action.’” Because any student is welcomed to apply for the competition, students may not necessarily have a background in business, but can use this competition as a chance to learn about building a business model for their ideas.
The diversity of students is reflected in the projects they represent Some are traditional for-profit enterprises, while others address national and transnational societal issues. “In this latter regard, one of the entrants from Sierra Leone is writing a business plan to revive the rice producing industry in Sierra Leone so that the country can once again be self-sufficient in that staple crop, while at the same time, increasing employment in the country,” Rotheim said.
This year, students will present on February 24, and then participate in a presentation skills workshop with Dr. Katie Peper ’78 the following day. An additional workshop, facilitated by Nancy Wekselbaum of The Gracious Gourmet, will be offered for the finalists regarding financial statements and projections.