by Paul Nucci, Published February 22, 2010
YPSILANTI – A consignment shop and a healthcare corporation were the big winners at The Skandalaris Business Plan Competition, held Feb. 12 at Eastern Michigan University.
Carrie Eichler, of Saline High School, placed first for her plan “Carrie’s Consignments” and Deborah Merz, a student at EMU, placed first for her plan “Healthcare Integrators, LLC.”
The Skandalaris Business Plan Competition is unique among similar collegiate events in Michigan in that it has separate categories for high school and university students, who complete for nearly $5000 in prize money in the annual event. Both Eichler and Merz received $1000 for placing first.
EMU students Svitlana Bundyk and Tracie Straub placed second for “The Pretty Pink Palace,” and Bill Shaffer placed third for “The Shaffer Boys, Inc,” taking home $750 and $500 respectively. Shaffer was also awarded $200 for winning the best presentation award.
Students presented their plans as part of the Sesi Midwest Entrepreneurship Conference, held at the EMU Student Center. Nearly 300 students, educators and future entrepreneurs attended the annual conference this year.
“The quality of the plans always amazes our judges,” said Dr. Sanjib Chowdhury, management professor at EMU and faculty director for the Center For Entrepreneurship. “The quality seems to improve as we expand the competition, and each year there is always one plan that stands out and makes us take notice.”
Saline swept the top awards in the high school category, as Saline students Heather Charles (“Awkward Records”) placed second and Christopher Hynek (“Stadium Chairs”) placed third, taking home $750 and $500 respectively. Charles, who was representing for the B-Side, a high school program designed to develop youth entrepreneurial culture in the community, also won $200 for best presentation.
"I am so proud of the students for taking risks, and so thankful for the wonderful opportunity that the Sesi Conference and the Skandalaris Business Plan Competition has offered to each of them,” said Christy McGee, a marketing teacher at Saline High School whose students claimed all three top prizes.
Plans were judged by EMU Management professors, along with business professionals who serve on the EMU Entrepreneurship Advisory Board. The competition was re-named in 2010 to honor EMU alum Robert Skandalaris, an author, entrepreneur and philanthropist from West Bloomfield who founded several public and private companies.
This year, plans were received from high schools in Ann Arbor, Saline, Ypsilanti and Inkster, along with high-school affiliated business programs such EMU’s B-Side, in Ypsilanti.
The Center for Entrepreneurship at Eastern Michigan University, located within the College of Business, strives to create, encourage and sustain the entrepreneurial spirit through its various activities. It assists emerging growth companies in the southeastern Michigan region with mentoring, seminars, business plan reviews and structured mentoring and networking between entrepreneurs and various resource providers. For more information, http://www.cob.emich.edu/include/templatesubpage.cfm?ID=1018&preview=0