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Skidmore College

Pursuing their passions

March 19, 2013

Six finalists will compete this Friday, April 12 in the Third Annual Kenneth A. Freirich Business Plan Competition. At stake: $50,000 in cash prizes and business services.  

A first-place prize of $20,000 is at stake for seven students who will compete this Friday, April 12 in the third Kenneth A. Freirich Business Plan Competition, which will start at 2:30 p.m. in the Payne Room of the Tang Museum. A second place prize of $10,000 and third place prize of $5,000 also will be awarded, along with $15,000 worth of start-up services donated by lawyers, accountants and marketing experts.

Roy Rotheim, professor of economics, with Ken Freirich

Freirich, a member of the Skidmore Class of 1990, contributed $20,000 toward this year's prizes, and arranged for the donation of business services. Other alumni who participated this year and in past years as judges also contributed prize money.

Fourteen student teams competed in the first round of the competition, which Freirich launched in 2011. Visiting as Skidmore's first entrepreneur-in-residence in late 2010, Freirich 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. A serial entrepreneur and president of Health Monitor Network, Freirich started his first business as a sophomore at Skidmore and is hoping to ignite the spark of creativity and entrepreneurship among students.

In refining their presentations, the students may tap the expertise of entrepreneurs and business executives who served as judges in the competition’s first round and are now paired with the students as mentors.

Those competing will be:

  • Seth Berger ’14, who aims to grow East Coast Lacrosse, the single-member LLC he established in 2010, into a leader in custom athletic apparel. Advising Berger is Jim Rossi ’82, managing partner of the Saratoga Polo Association and chief marketing officer for the United States Polo Association.

  • Jasmine Elise Story ’15 is an anthropology major launching a new Atlanta-based LLC, Forcast. It aims to change the way casting agents hire extras through a new smartphone app that enables casting agents to quickly and easily browse profiles created by a large pool of non-union actors. The app will be developed by Justin Colvin ’14, a computer science major who will share in the partnership. Advising Story is Jody Klein ’85, president of ABKCO Records and also a Skidmore parent.

  • Alexander Nassief ’16 and Brianna Barros ’16, having already established Dominican-based Rum Dogs, Inc., aim to implement a proprietary method for aging rum in barrels submerged in the Caribbean Sea and produce a premium brand, called Black Cap Rum, for the Dominican market. “The product line will serve as a symbol of Dominican ingenuity whilst adhering to local values of eco-friendliness,” they say. Advising Nassief and Barros is Catherine Hill, F. William Harder Professor of Business Administration at Skidmore.

  • Kelsey Yam ’13 is a management and business major who is also a star forward on Skidmore’s women’s soccer team. She interned with Soccer Without Borders in Kampala, Uganda, proposes to establish a satellite program in Fort Portal, a city of 48,000 located in Western Uganda about five hours from Kampala. Yam will serve as the program director, overseeing all aspects of a program targeted to poverty stricken refugee girls under 15. Advising Yam is Rich Flaherty, president and CEO, Cove Risk Services, LLC.

  • Magdalen Andreoni ’13, a studio arts major, aims to establish “the only specialty cookie mobile shop in Chicago,” an enterprise she calls The Cookie Jar. Using gluten-free, nut-free, and vegan recipes she has developed from scratch for such flavors as chocolate chip, “oatmeal monster,” peanut butter chocolate chunk, and ginger snap, she’s targeting the Loop, where foot traffic is highest. Advising Andreoni is Mary Vail ’80, president and chief designer, Joyelles Jewelers.

  • Samuel Schultz '13 is an Asian studies and international affairs major who to establish a placement service that matches Chinese young people with residential summer camps in the Northeast. Advising Schultz is Nancy Wekselbaum ’73, president, The Gracious Gourmet.

“The first round presentations were fabulous,” said Freirich. “Seeing the diversity of businesses and the passion, talent and creativity of students was fantastic and inspiring to watch. I think this is going to be the best final yet and encourage everyone to join us in April for the finals.”

“This competition is quintessentially Skidmore,” said Roy Rotheim, professor of economics, director of the Skidmore-Saratoga Entrepreneurial Partnership, and coordinator of the Freirich Competition since its inception. “It allows the nascent creativity to be sparked among the widest spectrum of Skidmore students, while giving them the opportunity to turn creative thought into creative action.”

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