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April 26, 2018

Panthers Make the Perfect Pitch

Winners of Adelphi University's first Business Plan Competition holding large checks

Five promising student entrepreneurs took the challenge to come up with original business ideas and develop elevator pitches and business plans. And on Tuesday, April 24, they pitched their products to a panel of “sharks” at Adelphi’s inaugural Business Plan Competition in hopes of getting a share of the $10,000 in start-up seed money to fund business plans and get their ventures off the ground.

  • Anmol Kumar and partner ChaiWala NYC would offer customers a library/café where they can relax and catch up on their reading over Indian chai and snacks.
  • Eric Boehning’s Long Beach Body Art would enable hosts of parties, fairs and events to go beyond face painting by offering guests temporary, waterproof, airbrushed tattoos.
  • Carly Lau and her partner, Fast Fashion App, would combine fashion and practicality by suggesting outfits based on the user’s local weather, selected occasion and personal style.
  • At Stephanie Kusterbeck‘s Tryst Cigar Lounge, power brokers and other denizens of Manhattan’s Financial District would have a place to relax and unwind in a cigar lounge that evokes a bygone era.
  • Ismael Voltaire‘s TradeBookz is a free app that would make it easier and more affordable for college students to purchase textbooks.

Attendees included Adelphi faculty members; proud friends and family members of the contestants; Rajib N. Sanyal, Ph.D., dean of the Robert B. Willumstad School of Business; Murat Sakir Erogul, Ph.D., assistant professor of entrepreneurship; and Robert B. Willumstad ’05 (Hon.), chair emeritus of Adelphi University’s Board of Trustees and for whom Adelphi’s business school is named.

After the judges deliberated, the winners were announced. Eric Boehning won the third-place prize of $2,000; Stephanie Kusterbeck won $3,000 for second place; and Ismael Voltaire won $500 for Best Poster Presentation, $500 for Best Elevator Pitch and $5,000 for first place.

Voltaire hails from Orlando, Florida, and is not a business major but completing his first year toward a master’s degree in biology. He came up with the idea for TradeBookz over the summer, and when he heard about the competition, it was a no-brainer to give it a go.

Voltaire said his plans now include getting both an M.D. and an M.B.A., developing TradeBookz and possibly going the nonprofit route to help residents in low-income communities such as Little Haiti in Miami.

He credits Dr. Erogul for mentoring him through the process of preparing for the competition. Dr. Erogul started at Adelphi in the fall of 2017 and “hit the ground running,” said Dr. Sanyal, creating and overseeing the competition and mentoring all the student entrepreneurs.

Dr. Erogul said he has seen “tremendous growth” in all the students, adding, “Ismael is a biology student who came in not knowing the basic concepts of business. Each time I met with him, he was more and more informed.”

Students presented before a panel of five judges, three of whom are Adelphi alumni:

  • Ivy Algazy, CEO and founder of The Ivy Network, LLC, which offers executive training and development for women seeking to advance their careers
  • Thomas Shinick, ’82, M.B.A. ’92, adjunct professor in the Robert B. Willumstad School of Business and owner and president of national business advisory firm Corporate Development Partners, LLC
  • Kathy Casale ’04, M.B.A. ’06, chief star gazer of Sea Star Strategy, a provider of marketing strategy, design and implementation
  • Nicholas Iadevaio Jr., M.B.A. ’00, vice president of corporate human resources for L’Oreal USA
  • George Maragos, former comptroller of Nassau County

In addition, Alan Cooper, Ph.D. ’95, M.B.A. ’03, associate dean of the Robert B. Willumstad School of Business, assisted with judging poster presentations and pitches.

Funds for the competition were provided by alumni and friends of the School, including members of the dean’s advisory board.

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