Follow your passion!
Weston Stewart-Tennes '17, founder of Fries First, won the
Freirich Competition’s top prize of $20,000 plus legal services this year.
He’s pictured here with Roy Rotheim (left), competition
director, and Ken Freirich ’90, competition founder.
Nearly 300 students representing 175 businesses have entered the Kenneth A. Freirich
Business Plan Competition since Ken Freirich ’90 established it in 2010 as a way to
encourage Skidmore students to follow their passions with a transformational entrepreneurial
experience. Encouraging students to explore new interests and capabilities they otherwise
might not find, the competition has grown into one of the best-funded in the Northeast,
offering $60,000 in prizes in 2015.
"There's nothing more rewarding than watching these amazingly talented and creative Skidmore students take on the biggest challenges of their lives and succeed," says Freirich, who started his own publishing business in 1988 as a Skidmore sophomore. Today, Freirich is the president of Health Monitor Network, a thriving entrepreneurial company that has grown five-fold over the last decade.
The goal of the competition is not only to provide teams with prizes of cash and in-kind services, but also to provide student entrepreneurs with the opportunity to improve their business through workshops, coaching, feedback, and live practice sessions in preparation for the myriad competition opportunities held annually each spring across the nation and globally.
Returning to Skidmore in 2010 as the College's first "Entrepreneur in Residence," Freirich issued an "Entrepreneurship/Creativity Challenge" to the student body. Inspired by the impressive talent, creativity, and effort that went into the student presentations, he decided to take things to the next level: launching a business plan competition to foster entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity among Skidmore students.
"When you challenge yourself beyond your confidence level, that's when you really grow and learn. When you start to succeed and hit one home run, that's when you see that the possibilities are endless."
The competition begins each September with a call for entries and a series of business-plan workshops design to help students in all majors prepare for semi-final presentations in late February. In this preliminary round of presentations, accomplished alumni entrepreneurs, business executives, investors, and marketing experts select approximately seven teams as most promising, and work with them as mentors through the competition’s final round, which is typically held on the second Friday in April.