A plan for connecting college students with tutors “whenever” and “wherever” they need them captured the $10,000 top prize in the eighth annual Student Business Plan Competition sponsored by Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education.
“Tutors 4 University Students,” developed by Salih Salaam of Easton, a junior accounting major at West Chester University of Pennsylvania, matches students with tutors in the subjects where they need help “at a price point affordable by the student and attractive to the qualified tutors.”
Rendell Weaver of Ephrata, a senior management major at Millersville University of Pennsylvania, won the second place, $5,000 award in the competition with his plan for “Clarae’s Drive-Thru Coffee,” a drive-thru/walk-up coffee kiosk that offers artisan, air roasted coffee drinks and complementary homemade food items to commuters and Penn State Harrisburg students.
David Brantley, Alec Stimson and Patrick Luebben, all marketing majors at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, captured third place for “Marqo,” a customer loyalty program for local businesses that incentivizes and rewards customers through drawings and cash prizes. Brantley from East Juniata and Leubben from Germany are seniors; Stimson, from Australia, is a junior.
The annual business plan competition is designed to provide students entrepreneurs an opportunity to share their original business plans and to win funds to assist in the start-up or expansion of their businesses. Students from all 14 State System universities were invited to participate in the competition in the fall.
“This competition and the students who participate truly do represent what the State System and our universities are all about – ensuring success by helping to create a brighter future for individuals, for their families, and for the Commonwealth,” said Board of Governors Chairwoman Cynthia D. Shapira. “Student success is our No. 1 priority; and, looking at this group of students, I see a lot of it. This is one of those experiences where our students truly shine.”
Speaking to the finalists and semi-finalists who were invited to the awards program, State System Chancellor Daniel Greenstein said, “Every one of you—I mean this sincerely—is a winner simply by your willingness to take on the challenge. I respect each of you enormously.”
The awards were presented during a ceremony held at the Dixon University Center. Others selected as finalists in this year’s competition were:
• AFC Signals, developed by Andrew Frederick from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. AFC Signals “increases the safety and visibility of motorcyclists on the road by providing hand-crafted flush mount turn signals for select European motorcycles.”
• GreenBean Energy, developed by James Russell from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania. GreenBean Energy takes residue from used coffee beans and recycles it to create the “coffee log”—an “environmentally friendly alternative fuel source to traditional firewood.”
• Higher’d, developed by Tyler Klenk, Morgan Hartley and Olga Plaksina from California University of Pennsylvania and Trevor Dewaele from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania. Higher’d is a mobile app and website that matches job openings from local area small businesses and chambers of commerce with high school and college-aged students who are looking for work.
• Nexus Integrated Security Solutions, developed by William Todd from West Chester University. Nexus Integrated Security Solutions “provides premium security services to commercial, industrial and retail clients.”
• Revamp Recruiting LLC, developed by Tyler Hickey, Matt Lynch and Blake Lazur from Shippensburg University. Revamp Recruiting “provides the ultimate recruiting experience for young athletes by using detailed analysis and video footage to give them the tools to market their individual talents and abilities.”
• Sassy Girl Project, developed by Samantha Schlak from Clarion University. Sassy Girl Project “inspires, motivates and connects empowered women from around the globe by offering all-in-one plurnals (planner journals), quarterly journals, webinars, blogs, free printables and more.” For every plurnal purchase, one prompted journal is donated to a young woman in the American Foster Care System.
• Wish Respect, developed by Matthew Heilman from West Chester University. Wish Respect offers a “first-of-its-kind advance care documentation ecosystem that allows healthcare payers to store and share their members’ wishes with loved ones and providers.”
Sponsors of this year’s competition were the Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union (PSECU), Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education Foundation, East Stroudsburg University Center for Research and Economic Development, Hershey Entertainment and Resorts and Marathon Studios Inc.
Judges were Sheri R. Collins, deputy secretary for the Office of Technology & Innovation in the state Department of Community and Economic Development; Michael Gildea, founder and CEO of Brain Gain, LLC; Chris Rhine, university development manager for the Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union; Laura Potthoff, director of business & workforce development for the Cumberland Area Economics Development Corporation; and Matthew Lancaster, president of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Keiretsu Forum.
Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education comprises 14 public universities, which combined enroll the largest number of Pennsylvania residents among all four-year colleges and universities in the Commonwealth. With nearly 100,000 degree-seeking students and thousands more enrolled in certificate and other career-development programs, the State System is a vital contributor to the Pennsylvania economy, generating an estimated $6.7 billion of economic activity annually. Collectively, the State System universities offer more than 2,300 degree and certificate programs in more than 530 academic areas. The universities have nearly 800,000 living alumni, the vast majority of whom reside in Pennsylvania.