by Paul Nucci, Published February 15, 2012
YPSILANTI – Business plans for a bike of the future and a way to integrate healthy salads into your daily life were among the big winners in the 2012 Skandalaris Business Plan Competition, sponsored by the Eastern Michigan University Center for Entrepreneurship within the College of Business.
High school, university and community college students competed for cash prizes totaling more than $5,000 in the annual event, with the winners announced at the EMU Sesi Entrepreneurship Conference, held Feb. 10 at the Student Center.
The young innovators presented their plans as part of the Sesi Midwest Entrepreneurship Conference, held at the EMU Student Center. Nearly 200 students, educators and future entrepreneurs attended the annual conference this year.
Sean Simpson, representing the University of Michigan, placed first in the collegiate level, and Caitlin Sisken, from Saline High School, won the high school division. Both received $1000 for placing first.
Simpson, from Troy, won for his plan "AutoBike," a business model to create and sell bicycles with automatic gear shifting. Sisken won for "Speedy Salads," a personalized and healthy way for people to make their own salads.
EMU students Jeremy Kopaniasz (Ortonville) and Matt Thomas (Novi) placed second and third in the collegiate level, respectively. Ypsilanti High School student Emily Bearman and Chelsea Young from Ann Arbor Huron placed second and third respectively in the high school category. Second place winners received $750 and third place winners received $500. Best Presentation, and a $200 award, went to Kopaniasz and Sisken.
Students submitted more than 60 plans, which were screened and judged by business professionals.
For the collegiate level, plans were received from EMU, U-M and Xavier University in Cincinnati. High School plans were received from Ypsilanti, Saline, Ann Arbor Huron and Ann Arbor Skyline high schools, along with the Business Side of Youth, a high school outreach program that fosters an entrepreneurial spirit in young people.
The top three high school and college winners were notified before the conference, and each gave presentations at the event. Judges then did the final ordering of the winners.
The competition honors EMU alum Robert Skandalaris, an author, entrepreneur and philanthropist from West Bloomfield who founded several public and private companies.
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.
The center assists emerging growth companies in the Southeast Michigan region with seminars, business plan reviews and structured mentoring and networking between entrepreneurs along with various resource providers.
The Center helps support EMU students with the management of the Sesi conference and runs the business plan competition.