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Cayuga CC announces the winners of the 2013 SUNY Engine Business Idea Competition

DATE: 03-01-2013

Waterloo resident Lauren Burdsall has always loved dogs, and she has always imagined herself in a career that would involve them. Today, she is one step closer to achieving that dream.

Burdsall, a business student at Monroe Community College, took home the first-place prize in the 2013 SUNY Engine Business Idea Competition, hosted by Cayuga Community College. Included in her top place finish are a $1250 cash prize and mentoring on her business concept with John Liddy, the entrepreneur in residence at the Syracuse Tech Garden and a National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship Fellow.

Burdsall was among dozens of students from six SUNY community colleges who submitted their ideas into the competition. Ideas ranged from wind energy device attached to cars and an indoor, Wi-Fi study center, to nutritional supplements and teaching military veterans to become farmers.

A prestigious panel of seven judges reviewed the applicants and awarded prizes to the top four ideas.

The winners are:

  • First Place, $1,250, Lauren Burdsall from Monroe Community College for “Cloud K9 Doggy Daycare,” where clients can drop off their dogs while at work or on vacation. Dogs are socialized with other dogs, groomed and trained.  Client services include a live web feed, pick-up/drop-off from home or airport, overnight care, in-home pet care, off-site veterinarian care and a bakery where owners can bake or buy their canines organic, healthy treats.
  • Second Place, $750, Antehene Demissie from Monroe Community College for, a web site where active duty service members, reservists, and veterans can receive discounts on services and merchandise from locally owned business.
  • Third Place, $500, Gillian Sears from Cayuga Community College’s Auburn Campus for Critter Condos, an individualized service of designing and constructing small animal homes and enclosures based on customer’s personal taste and size requirements.
  • Fourth Place, $250, Nicole Green from Cayuga Community College’s Fulton Campus for Nickki’s Mobile Salon, a mobile salon catered to people who want to feel good about themselves but are unable to leave their homes to get to a salon. 

“Project this competition out five years, and we’ll have students from all 30 SUNY community colleges across the state presenting their ideas to room full of judges, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists, possibly in New York City,” said Dr. Daniel P. Larson, president of Cayuga Community College. “Entrepreneurship can reinvent New York State. A tremendous amount of innovation and creativity came out of Upstate New York 150 years ago. We’re trying to inculcate some of that back into the region. And these students are a part of that.”

Winners will have access to mentoring by Liddy as well as the other judges: Robert W. Pine, CPA, RWP Investments and Consulting; Larry Clark, Company Controller of MCK Building Associates Inc.; Bob Steigerwald, SCORE counselor; Dale Weed, President of Pure Functional Foods and former owner of New Hope Mills; Allison DiMatteo, President, Crème della Crème Copywriting & Communication; and Kimberly Manrow, EA, President, Custom Accounting Services Inc.

“This was a great opportunity for me to apply what I’m learning while I’m still in school,” said Demissie, who plans on launching his business in early March. “I have 100 businesses already signed on to the web site and willing to offer veterans a discount. After I graduate in May, I hope to focus on building up my business.”

Green came up with her idea for a mobile salon in an attempt to try to raise funds for a school trip to New York City. Using social media and her network of friends, she offered to give people manicures and pedicures in the comfort of their homes for a small donation. Little did she know, she would get a great response from home-bound individuals, elderly, and individuals with special needs.

“Based on that experience, I realized that people would pay for me to come to their homes and pamper them,” Green said. “When I heard about this competition, I decided I had to submit my idea.” She said she will use the winnings to purchase supplies for the mobile salon.

Sears said her prize money will help cover her tuition and education expenses. Although she is a liberal arts/math and science major, she said she would seek out business classes to obtain the knowledge she’d need to pursue her business idea.

“We were excited to have participation from many colleges across our SUNY network,” said Business Professor Amy Valente, who organized the competition. “We’re also grateful to the Coleman Foundation for their support and to Professor Thomas Paczkowski, our Fred L. Emerson Foundation Endowed Chair in Enterprise and Innovation, who helped secure the Coleman grant. We expect that the competition will get bigger and better in future years.”