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Fourteen teams to compete in Business Plan Competition

February 6, 2013

Business plan competition starts Friday, Feb. 8

February 6, 2013

A first-place prize of $20,000 is at stake for 14 teams of students who are competing in the 2013 Kenneth A. Freirich Business Plan Competition, the preliminary round of which will take place Friday, Feb. 8 at 2:30 p.m. in the Payne Room of the Tang Museum.

A $10,000 second prize and $5,000 third prize also will be awarded, along with an additional $15,000 in business services. These awards are intended to "act as a catalyst to help students start a new business or to assist the development of their existing business," said Roy Rotheim, professor of economics and director of the competition.

Competing both singly and in teams of two and three, the 20 students will present plans for 14 new enterprises, including:

  • An LLC that uses networked camera systems to enhance anti-poaching efforts around the world;
  • A non-profit organization that provides disadvantaged youth in impoverished communities worldwide to develop physically and socially through organized soccer;
  • An online resource that enables college students search for internships that are best keyed to their interests;
  • A smartphone app that enables casting directors to connect with a large pool of non-union actors.

A six-member panel of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, accountants, lawyers, and executives will select six finalists from among those presenting Friday. They then will serve as mentors, helping the students hone their plans in preparation for the finals to be held Friday, April 12.

Judges and mentors in the first round of this year’s competition include:

  • Ken Freirich ‘90, president, Health Monitor Network;
  • Rich Flaherty, president and CEO, Cove Risk Services, LLC;
  • Darren Herman ‘04, serial entrepreneur and chief digital media officer, KBS+/The Media Kitchen;
  • Jody Klein, president, ABKCO Records;
  • Jim Rossi ‘82, managing partner, Saratoga Polo Association, and chief marketing officer, United States Polo Association;
  • Nancy Wekselbaum ’73, president, The Gracious Gourmet;
  • Mary Vail ‘80, president and chief designer, Joyelles Jewelers.

On Thursday night, Feb. 7, Herman will discuss his highly successful career as an entrepreneur. That lecture will be in Davis Auditorium in Palamountain Hall, beginning at 7 p.m.

Students in this year’s competition were required to indicate their intent to compete early last fall and then to participate in a weekly business plan writing workshop conducted by senior Management and Business majors from the Skidmore-Saratoga Entrepreneurial Partnership.

"We want this to be a profound educational experience for our students, helping them to go beyond the intuitive and arrive at something concrete – and to gain a first-hand understanding of that process," said Rotheim.

The competition was launched in 2011 by Kenneth A. Freirich, Skidmore Class of 1990, serial entrepreneur, and president of Health Monitor Network.  Visiting as Skidmore's first entrepreneur-in-residence in late 2010, he challenged students to present new-business ideas, and it was their "impressive talent, creativity and effort" that inspired him to launch the full-fledged business-plan contest as a way to support student innovation.

"My goal is to foster entrepreneurship and create real operating businesses,” says Freirich, who launched his first publishing venture as a Skidmore undergraduate.  “I don't want this to be just an academic exercise. I know this can be a life-changing experience for students."

Freirich contributed $20,000 toward this year's prizes, and arranged for the donation of business services. Other current and former judges also contributed prize money.

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