On Mar. 8, hopeful Manhattan College entrepreneurs stood before a panel of judges who decided which business proposal won this year’s Innovative Idea Contest.
Salwa Ammar, Ph.D. and dean of the School of Business, helped start this contest along with other faculty members because they wanted to,“support and encourage innovation and creativity.”
“We want to give students an opportunity to present their business ideas in front of professionals and entrepreneurs,” Ammar said.
The panel of judges consisted of five alumni, faculty and experts from the field.
Judges looked at presentation style including the confidence of presenters, adherence to the time limit and visual aids used to pitch the idea.
The business plan summary of each idea was also critiqued based on the product’s marketability, the description of the company’s operations and the identification of possible risks.
Ammar said that past submissions have included eco-friendly sneaker inserts, online shopping services, carpooling apps for smartphones and a fantasy football team optimizer.
Aileen Farrelly, assistant dean for the School of Business, said that this year’s ideas included apps, clothing and product startups.
Farrelly hoped that this annual contest can, “give student entrepreneurs a forum to present their business ideas and get professional feedback.”
Jared Boyles, a senior double majoring in economics and business management, was among the ten teams of students who presented on Mar. 8.
Boyles and his business partner, Shannon Walsh, presented a non-profit organization they call Fresh Starter.
The two came up with the idea after taking a class through E3MC, a program that puts 10 students from MC alongside 10 inmates from Riker’s Island.
The students from Riker’s Island that take this class are allowed to enroll in two free courses at MC upon their release.
Boyles said that this program intends to matriculate these formerly incarcerated people, but many of them can not afford to enroll in any additional classes.
“The tuition becomes too exorbitant for them. They can’t pay for textbooks, they are living in shelters or they have no metrocard. They simply can’t make it work,” Boyles said.
Fresh Starter is designed to fundraise money for people who were in prison and want to attend college after their release.
Boyles plans to have profiles on freshstarter.org of people who were students at Riker’s Island through the E3MC program.
Boyles used the example of a woman named Yolanda Gonzalez and how her profile would look.
“You click on the button that says ‘Donate Here’ and all of a sudden you get a video of Yolanda and you can see what degree she is pursuing, her hopes and dreams, how she’s going to pay that degree forward in her community and her specific needs,” Boyles said.
Boyles said he was worried that traditional business people would not like his plan because it is not a, “cash cow.”
“It’s trying to sort of hijack the system of crowdsourcing and make it something that’s going to be useful in a social setting in a way that’s going to benefit society,” Boyles said.
Regardless of the results of the contest, Boyles plans to pursue this non-profit organization for as long as he can.
Ammar called this contest a “valuable opportunity for students” regardless of which school they are enrolled in at MC.
The contest results will be available exclusively on mcquad.org by Mar. 9.