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2 Skidmore teams take awards in NYS business plan contest

April 28, 2014

2 Skidmore teams take awards in NYS business plan contest

April 28, 2014

A total of 92 teams from 36 New York colleges and universities competed for $500,000 in awards in the fifth year of the contest. The finals were held April 25 at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.

Two Skidmore teams took prizes: 

-- Evolv Composting, launched by John Manning ’14 and Brad Cray ‘15, was awarded $1,500 as “Rookie of the Year” in the energy and sustainability category. Made to promising companies early in their development, this award includes an invitation to pitch the plan again in next year’s competition.

Ezra Levy, Marcella Jewell
Levy, Jewell (Photo by Creative Photo and Graphic, LLC)

-- Open Campus, launched by Ezra Levy ’15 and Marcella Jewell ‘15, was awarded $1,500 for placing third in the social entrepreneurship and non-profit category. Matching college students with businesses offering real-world projects, Open Campus was a finalist in the Kenneth A. Freirich Business Plan Competition, which concluded two weeks ago.

The team that took the $10,000 second prize in the Freirich Competition—Rum Dogs, Inc., the luxury rum brand established by Alexander Nassief '16 and Zach Rohde '14—also competed Friday in the products and services category. This was the first year Skidmore has sent three teams to final round, said Catherine Hill, F. William Harder Professor of Business Administration.

“The big difference is that we have much more developed businesses,” she said. “All of the teams have tested their business assumptions and the quality of their financial statements is dramatically better than last year.”

All also are on growth trajectories.

— Conceived by Manning and Cray as an assignment just last fall in Hill’s entrepreneurship class, Evolv Composting already is providing its odorless, airtight composting bins to restaurants and homeowners in Saratoga Springs; 

— Open Campus has enlisted more than 100 students on its Web site and plans to launch a smartphone app this fall; 

— Rum Dogs plans to bring more than 1,000 bottles of premium spiced rum to market by the end of the year and is taking pre-orders.

Many of the teams that made it to the finals were established by masters or doctoral students. The top $100,000 prize was awarded to a company established by a Ph.D. candidate at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering who has come up with a technology that allows for more effective drug screening to prevent glaucoma.

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