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Judging Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs

SUNY Poly Collegiate Business Plan CompetitionAs part of the New York State Business Plan Competition, SUNY Polytechnic Institute hosted the Mohawk Valley Collegiate Business Plan Competition: Regional Qualifier. Katie Ullman, Marketing Supervisor at First Source Federal Credit Union, participated for her third year as one of the judges.

“This is such an inspiring day,” Katie said. “I really look forward to it. These budding entrepreneurs come in armed with ideas and presentations that they’ve been pouring their soul into. We are an integral step for them to learn and grow, and potentially move on to the state qualifier in Albany and win prize money to fund their concepts. It’s very cool to share our knowledge and expertise with them and be a part of their journey.”

There were 4 categories: Products/Services, Social Entrepreneurship/Non-Profit, Energy/Sustainability, and Information Technology/Software. Each category had multiple groups present. Some are still in the infancy concept phase, while others have full business plans, cost/income analyses, and even prototypes.

Each group gets 10 minutes to pitch/present to the judge’s panel, and 5 minutes of Q/A time. Then each is graded individually using a standard rubric. Once they have all presented, the judges gather as a panel and really discuss each candidate, their concept, concept need within the marketplace, competition, concept development, presentation, costs, success potential, etc., and final decisions are made on advancement.

“One of last year’s winners came back to present to the group this year. It was so gratifying to see his growth and the success of his business,” Ullman added. “He was a true inspiration to the collegiate competitors in the room this year. As someone in marketing, I was thrilled to hear him tell the group how important it is to think about your marketing up front, develop your brand, live your brand, and make sure you get a well-designed, timeless, relevant logo to showcase what your business is all about. He gave the competitors very pertinent, real-life business advice.”

The regional qualifier competition drew interest from 13 student teams from nine accredited New York colleges and universities. All came to pitch their game-changing business proposals, for a chance to reach the final round and win part of the more than $500,000 in total prizes. Semifinal round competitions in nine other regions across New York have either already been held, or are scheduled to take place prior to the final round. That round is expected to draw hundreds to SUNY Poly’s Albany NanoTech Complex on April 29, 2016, when the best student teams from each region will go head-to-head. One grand prize winner will be announced, and will earn $50,000 cash and more than $50,000 in in-kind services.

Six teams advanced as regional finalists, and will head to Albany:

Information Technology/Software Category
• NPMWare – SUNY Poly (Utica)
• Travelsee – SUNY Oneonta, Cornell University

Energy/Sustainability Category
• Underground Greens – Mohawk Valley Community College

Social Entrepreneurship/Non-Profit Category
• Vets2Farm – Morrisville State College

Products/Services Category
• Vertica Entertainment – SUNY Poly (Utica)
• My Wine Class – Fulton Montgomery Community College

Congratulations to all who participated in another successful event! And thanks to SUNY Poly for the invitation. We can’t wait for next year!

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