The judges came prepared with copies of the business plans. The students came prepared, ready to present their concepts for the “Next Big Thing” and it was a night of innovation, creative thinking and insightful questions and answers. And after 15 minutes on stage for each of the five contenders, and a ‘grilling’ by the judges, two emerged as scholarship winners, ready to take their business plans to the next level.
The School of Business event, the equivalent of “Shark Tank” was the culmination of four months’ work by the participants who conceived the ideas, wrote full business plans then took to the stage to pitch the highlights and to answer hard questions on their proposal details.
First up was Cameron Morison, with Whimsical Unicycle LLC, pitching the concept of Intramural Unicycle Sports. His mission was to provide a safe and comfortable learning experience to help in the growth of unicycling as a sport, hobby and meditation method that would promote fellowship among the student population in the spirit of friendly competition.
Next up was Mustang Transport, conceived by Sarah Schmadtke. The Uber-like service would cater specifically to the Mount Ida campus. Starting with students, then expanding for faculty and staff, it would provide personalized service with Mount Ida students as drivers. Schmadtke’s concept is expandable to other campuses, and might include golf-cart transportation within large campuses. It is an antidote, she says to the hailing services that often don’t know where Mount Ida is, or which buildings are which.
Focusing on male accessories, Branden Bidon was next up with Rebel Men. He displayed his color palette, his designs and a cost analysis of production and sales that would reap him a respectable profit margin. His distinctive designs were inspired by the urban and industrial landscape of New York City, and drew more than a few oohs and aahs from the crowd, and not just from the men.
The topic then turned to music as Jackson Yager presented UBOOST, a unique way to promote music and new artists through Sound Cloud. A house-music devotee, his plan spelled out how the music community works to share product and said his plan involved leveraging his own network, while also purchasing pages that already have thousands of followers. The business would then grow by expanding across genres. His passion for the music and his expertise as a producer were evident in the presentation.
Rounding out the evening was the team of Jonathan Berry, Alexander Veloukas and Chad Coelho of Ace Auto Detailing. Wearing their matching green polo shirts, they pitched the idea of becoming a third-party vendor, offering detailing services through country clubs, where members could have the work done while they were out playing nine or 18 holes. Catering to the upscale client, their financial projections would make it easy for them to one day own their own luxury cars.
At the conclusion of the presentations the judges set about making the tough decision as to which business plans would be awarded prizes. UBOOST clearly won them over, and the first place kudos and a check for $1500 went to Jackson Yager. Stepping up to accept a check for $750 and second place, was Branden Bidon for Rebel Man.
This year’s distinguished panel of judges included; Zachary Rosen, a Mount Ida alum, who works with the NES Group, a bank design company. He was joined by Brett Conley who graduated from Mount Ida College School of Business, with a major in Business Management and a minor in Marketing in 2009, who now works for Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.
Helping to make the tough decision on the winners were Stephen Butch, yet another proud Mount Ida alum, who has been with New Balance Athletics, Inc. for 22 years and Jean Williams, Williams Consulting Group with over 20 years of experience in executive/leadership development and general management.
The prizes presented to the Next Big Thing winners were made possible by a generous donation from Gregg and Pamela Rosen. Their son (and judge) Zachary, who graduated from Mount Ida in 2014 with a Bachelor’s degree in Sport Management always spoke highly of his Mount Ida experiences in both the classroom and on the lacrosse field. His parents, proud of his accomplishments and seeing how Mount Ida was growing and changing, established the Business Plan Competition to give other students the opportunities Zachary had.
In opening remarks, Gregg Rosen said he could easily see availing himself of any of the products being presented and urged the students to seize every opportunity. These comments were echoed by School of Business Dean, Sharon McKechnie. McKechnie also added that this contest is a great opportunity for students to share their passion with the community, while exhibiting their knowledge of the intricacies of the business world. “All of the participants did a great job and I can’t wait to see what brilliant ideas are presented next year.”