by Paul Nucci, Published February 15, 2011
YPSILANTI - A coffee shop designed for busy commuters and a custom shoe company aimed at teens were the big winners at the Fourth Annual Skandalaris Business Plan Competition, held as part of the Sesi Entrepreneurship Conference at Eastern Michigan University Feb. 11.
EMU student Randy Wiltshire claimed first place in the university category for "Joe to Go" coffee shop, a plan he devised in class at the EMU College of Business. "Joe to Go" is an express-lane restaurant catering to busy professionals who don't have time to go to Starbucks or wait in line at fast food establishments. His advisor was Dr. Diana Wong from the EMU Management Department. Wiltshire claimed $1,000 for placing first.
Two students from Wayne State University placed second for their plan "GreenStart Batteries." Cynthia Finger and Marta Hrecznyj took home $750 for their plan to create an eco-friendly company that would recycle used car batteries and sell back to the consumer for a lesser price than buying new.
EMU student Nikole Viltz placed third ($500) for "Scaling Stability," her plan for a customized training center for young gymnasts. Her advisor was also Dr. Wong. Finger and Hrecznyj also took home $200 for having the "Best Presentation."
Bobby Knutilla from Ann Arbor Huron High School placed first for "Doodilla Shoes," his idea for shoes to be designed with artwork and sold to teenagers to fit each person's unique style. Using traditional white Converse shoes, every pair would be transformed into a personal statement of style for today's teenager.
Sunjay Josyula, also from Ann Arbor Huron, placed second ($750) for "Synergy Eco-Consulting," a company designed to help ease the confusion consumer's face when seeking to use energy alternatives. Adriane Rasmussen from Saline High School placed third ($500) "Fresh, Food, Fast," a food truck that would deliver healthy food selections to on-the-go customers. Josyula also took home $200 for winning "Best Presentation."
In its fourth year, the Skandalaris Business Plan Competition is unique in it has a university/community college and high school category. 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; author, entrepreneur, and philanthropist.
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 was held as part of the 14th Annual Sesi Midwest Entrepreneurship Conference February 11. More than 225 students and educators attended the annual conference, which focused on Innovation and Green entrepreneurs. Hosted by the Collegiate Entrepreneur's Organization of EMU, students manage the conference and secure speakers for the keynote address and break-out sessions.
The luncheon featured Elizabeth Redmon of "POWERleap, Inc., a clean-tech company based in Ann Arbor that developed floor solutions that generate electricity from pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Redmon created POWERleap while at the University of Michigan, and was recently featured in Forbes and on The Discovery Channel.
"It was another tremendous conference," said Melissa Healtlie, president of the CEO. "The executive board worked hard, and it all came together with another great day. It is so inspiring to hear success stories from people who have their own idea for a business and want to help the planet while doing so." The conference is named in honor of the Sesi Family of Ypsilanti.
The Center for Entrepreneurship at EMU, 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.
Contact: Paul Nucci at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 734-487-0902