Entrepreneurs@MC Rapidly Expands as Partnership Begins with Amazon

By Grace Cardinal, Staff Writer

Entrepreneurs@MC is back in session to provide future entrepreneurs or anyone interested in entrepreneurship with the real-world skills it takes to create and run a business. 

The program was founded through the O’Malley School of Business at Manhattan College last fall. Previously, they paired up with the Signature Innovation Challenge business plan competition, providing students with up to $10,000 in awards to help develop their startups.

This year, the program has paired with AWS Activate, a program facilitated through Amazon, to help allow students to further their business growth. 

“AWS Activate is a program giving students with existing businesses opportunities to grow their business,” Winston Peters, director of Entreprenuers@MC and professor of management and marketing, said.

Because of the new partnership, Peters’ access to resources for participants is increasing.

“Starting off, I’m able to provide students with $6,500 in AWS credits up to $100,000 in AWS credits to further their businesses, as well as get tech support from AWS,” Peters said.

A major part of the entrepreneurs program is the yearly Innovation Competition in which Manhattan College students have been competing for the last nine years. 

“When I arrived in 2018 as dean, I wanted to have a bigger program, so we expanded it then and increased the prize money, so now it’s at $10,000 for the Innovation Challenge business plan competition,” Don Gibson, dean of the O’Malley School of Business, said.

“Last year, we started with Winston directing the Entrepreneurs@MC program, which is the umbrella for all entrepreneurial activities,” Gibson continued. 

Previously, Manhattan had many student winners, including then sophomore accounting major Theresa Donlon, who placed first for her business plan. 

“The project I did last year was a self-administered [COVID-19] testing device that connects via Bluetooth to your mobile device, allowing you to take a test and receive results on an app that’s compatible with the testing apparatus,” Donlon said.

This business plan came from watching the testing situation on campus throughout the pandemic.

“With the frequent surveillance testing [on campus] I thought maybe there should be a simpler way,” she said.

The challenge itself mimics a real world, Shark Tank-like panel for students to pitch their business plans to. 

“It was definitely intimidating doing it solo, especially when you’re not a very extroverted person,” Donlon said. “I always tell myself when you put yourself in those uncomfortable positions, usually the greatest things happen.” 

Throughout the year, leading up to the spring Innovation Challenge, Manhattan College hosts various speakers to talk to students about the world of start-up businesses. 

“This year, we’re looking to do more, bigger than what we did last year, in regards to bringing in more guest speakers for students to vet their business idea, learn how to market their business, learn where to get funding, but also to just bring in other entrepreneurs to give them insight of what is the day in the life and how to think about your career,” Peters said.

Along with the new AWS Activate partnership, the program is actively expanding into other partnerships with big businesses to help provide students with every tool they may need to help their business grow.

“For the Innovation Challenge, Ink Magazine has offered to provide master mentors for the student groups, as well as give students a free subscription to their magazine, just to bring more entrepreneurship into their world,” Peters said.

Entrepreneurs@MC and the Innovation Challenge are open to students from all schools at Manhattan, graduate and undergraduate. On Wednesday Sept. 28, the program will host its yearly Innovation Challenge kickoff in Kelly Commons for any students interested.