Freshmen Present New Business Plans

From left are Professor Tuvana Rua, Cameron Bernstein, Jake Skinner, Daniel Cohen, Cara Conery and Dean John Chalykoff.

News Story: May 14, 2015

Forty-four groups, made up of four or five freshmen students from Sacred Heart University’s Jack Welch College of Business (WCOB), presented their plans for a new business recently at the Frank and Marisa Martire Business & Communications Center.

The event, which began with a poster session, was sponsored by Christopher Rosen, COO of Hyperbaric Medical Solutions. The students represented eight sections of SHU’s Intro to Business class, which became mandatory for freshmen business students this year. The students not only had to create a new business, but needed to research risks and rewards, determine their breakeven point and consider plans for future expansion.

All 44 teams participated in the poster session. Ideas ranged from an all-female fitness gym in Fairfield County and a golf ball tracking system to a chargeable mug with temperature control and a hand-powered rechargeable phone battery. Several groups were promoting late-night snacks, while several others had ideas for car services. The winning poster was for the Cozy Sleep Sack—a solar-powered, heated sleeping bag that also serves as a phone charger. It was developed by Nicole Cavataro, Katerina Christopoulos, Kristen Citerella, Christina Dimauro and Jacqueline Foley.

Following the poster contest, the eight previously selected winning teams from each of the sections—dressed in business attire—made a presentation of their business plan before an audience of students, faculty, staff and guests. After each presentation, the students had to answer questions—in a Shark Tank-like format—from a panel of guest judges that included Pedro Caceres, CEO of Operational Success Business Consulting; Sal Ferro, president, CEO and managing partner of Alure Home Improvements, Inc.; Gerry Libertelli, veteran entrepreneur and Internet developer with roots in online service delivery dating back to the startup of the industry; Mike Maguire, chairman and former CEO of Structural Graphics; Vincent Miceli ’05, who has worked in private wealth management at UBS as well as with seed funding and early-stage ventures; and Rosen.

The eight presentations included two food delivery services, a wireless Internet signal booster antenna, a magnetic phone case, an on-campus hair and nail salon, a mobile sporting goods store, a mobile application to help students find a college that meets their social and academic needs that included a feature for finding a roommate and a website that links college students looking for off-campus housing with landlords who want to rent to students.

In presenting the awards to the winning three presentations, the judges complimented all the students on their work and noted that they had a difficult time with their decision. The winning idea was Weel-Dee—the application for student renters and landlords who want to rent to students. The team consisted of Cameron Bernstein, Cara Connery, Daniel Cohen and Patrick Skinner.

The runner up was Magna Case, the magnetic phone case. It was the brainstorm of Anthony Bentivegna, Joseph Esposito, Logan Keevan, Jason Ladisernia and Alexander Perry. Third place was awarded to Mobile Muncheez, a food truck that will provide snacks into the wee hours of the morning. The concept was developed by Ryan Hoover, Andrew Nelson, Zenenga Tatenda and Owen Warner.

Both the winning Cozy Sleep Sack and Weel-Dee teams were coached by Professor Tuvana Rua. “This is such an honor as a faculty member, and I am very proud of both the Weel-Dee and Cozy Sleep Sack teams,” she said. “That said, every team in the competition, both in the poster and presentation sessions, worked extremely hard throughout the semester and in preparing for the final event, and the dedication and pride our students take in their work is what makes this event such a success.”

“The students did an exceptional job. Their ideas were creative, and their business plans were based on solid research,” added John Chalykoff, dean of the WCOB. “That these projects were done by freshmen makes it even more impressive.”

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