The Entrepreneurial Spirit on Full Display at the 2013-2014 Annual Business Plan Competition

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

An internet-based service application that increases efficiency for trade shows and a martial arts afterschool program were among the business ideas being pitched by budding entrepreneurs who competed for $16,000 in prizes during this year’s Fifth Annual James and Eileen Christmas Business Plan Competition and Expo on Saturday, April 5, 2014 from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm in the D’Angelo Center, Queens Campus.

The five finalists, chosen from 83 plans submitted by St. John’s students, were vying for a top prize of $5,000 which can be used to upstart their business venture. Remaining competitors displayed their plans during the Expo to attract “investors” from attendees and win cash prizes.

“The Business Plan Competition is an opportunity for students to move beyond the pure classroom experience and actually go through the process of developing a business plan and selling their idea. It’s a great skill that will serve them well throughout any career they choose to pursue,” said James W. Christmas, event founder.

Competition top honors went to Jonathan Weiss, Green Garden Solutions, inventor of a collapsible wheelbarrow; Michael Napolitano, Flutter System, a developer of audio and amplifier systems for crew teams and Kevin Cernuto, Custom Coolers, a lightweight cooler manufacturer that offers attachments to fit multiple items such as seating and electronics. Margurite Lynn McDonald, Shawn Chowdhury and Dylan Moody took the top three Expo prizes.

The panel of high-powered judges included: James W. Christmas, Former Director and Vice Chairman of PetroHawk Energy; Cathy Borzon, Global CFO for Neo@Ogilvy; Gary Chan, Managing Director, JP Morgan Chase; Richard Haray, Senior Vice President, Corporate Services of the Interpublic Group; and Kathryn WachsmanEsq., entrepreneur and managing partner of The Law Offices of Harvey F. Wachsman MD, JD, PLLC. Bob Frank, Co-Founder of digital syndication network, Quello, was keynote speaker for the event.

Kathryn Wachsman highlighted how the competition helps students better understand the importance of knowing the financial components of a business. “Your idea can be terrific, it can be creative and it can meet a need for the community but if you don’t have a realistic view of the financial aspect you will struggle and your business can’t succeed.”

Next year’s competition is scheduled for Saturday, April 26, 2015 with a number of workshops planned to help students develop their ideas and prepare their presentations. For additional information about the James and Eileen Christmas Business Plan Competition and Expo, please contact Dr. R. Mitch Casselman at casselmr@stjohns.edu or Professor Ingrid Fray at frayi@stjohns.edu