Area students vie for prize money in Skandalaris Business Plan Competition as EMU hosts Sesi Midwest Entrepreneurship Conference

by Paul Nucci, Published February 08, 2011

YPSILANTI - Six business plans were selected as finalists for the EMU Skandalaris Business Plan Competition as high school and university students compete for cash prizes totaling $5,000 at the Sesi Midwest Entrepreneurship Conference on February 11 at the EMU Student Center.

University finalists include:

  • Randy Wiltshire (EMU) - "Joe to Go Coffee Shop"
  • Cynthia Finger (Wayne State) - "GreenStart Batteries"
  • Nikole Viltz (EMU) - "Scaling Stability"

High school finalists include:

  • Bobby Knutilla (Ann Arbor Huron) - "Doodilla Shoes"
  • Sunjay Josyula (Ann Arbor Huron) - "Synergy Eco-Consulting"
  • Adriane Rasmussen (Saline) - "Fresh, Food, Fast"

"We received nearly 100 plans and the quality of the plans was just tremendous," said Dr. Sanjib Chowdhury, management professor at EMU and faculty director for the EMU Center For Entrepreneurship. "The submitted plans were creative, and we think all of the finalists have excellent ideas."

In its fourth year, the Skandalaris Business Plan Competition is unique in it has a university/community college and a high school category. First place (for each category) is $1000 and second place is $750, and third place is $500. There is also a $200 prize for "best presentation."

Plans were judged by professional business counselors from the Michigan Small Business and Technology Center (MI-SBTDC) and EMU Entrepreneurship Advisory Board members. The competition was re-named in 2010 to honor EMU alumnus Robert Skandalaris, an author, entrepreneur, and philanthropist.

This year, university plans were received from Wayne State University and the University of Michigan along with EMU submissions. High schools in Ann Arbor (Huron, Skyline), Saline, Hartland and high school affiliated programs such as the B-Side in Ypsilanti and The Neutral Zone in Ann Arbor also submitted plans.

The Competition is held as part of the Sesi Midwest Entrepreneurship Conference as local entrepreneurs share their journey to success with aspiring entrepreneurs at the conference on  February 11. The Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization (CEO) is the local EMU chapter of the national CEO and will play host to the event. Its mission includes aiding students of all majors in learning the aspects of starting their own business.

All EMU faculty, staff and students are invited to attend, as well as university/community college and high school students and faculty that have curriculum centered on business or entrepreneurship. Networking along with a continental breakfast starts at 8:30 a.m. followed by opening remarks. Three breakout sessions highlight the conference.  A sit-down lunch follows with the keynote speaker and concludes with the competition.

               The event is free, but registration is required. Click here to register or visit the Center for Entrepreneurship online. Call (734) 644-6663 or email for details. The Student Center is located at 900 Oakwood in Ypsilanti.
                Students in the CEO Club gain real world experience by working on club projects involving real products for sale. Projects have included software solutions, creating new apparel, training videos, new market products and promotion techniques. The Club also provides students with the opportunity to run a current chapter business.

The Center for Entrepreneurship at Eastern Michigan University 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.

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Paul Nucci


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