ESU Graduate Student from East Stroudsburg Takes Second Place Honors at PASSHE’s Business Plan Competition

Posted by: jrivera on April 17, 2013, No Comments

East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania (ESU) Graduate Student Thomas Rounsville, Jr. of East Stroudsburg took second place in the 2013 Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Student Business Plan competition which concluded Monday in Harrisburg. His proposal to create a system that would allow investigators collecting evidence at a wildlife crime scene to use essentially the same techniques and technologies that are used in human forensics was one of seven finalists and piqued the interest of the competition’s judges. The use of Rounsville’s proposed technology in the field could result in rapid identification of potential poachers.

In addition to his work in the PASSHE Business Plan Competition, Rounsville was a nominee for the Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools’ Outstanding Thesis of the Year Award with his research titled, “Landscape Genetics and Disease Seroprevalence of Coyotes (Canis latrans) of the Eastern United States.” Rounsville, who graduated this past December, also presented on his thesis topic during ESU’s Inaugural Student Research and Scholarly Activity Symposium as well as the 89th annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science (PAS) at the University of Pittsburgh, Bradford, Pa., and the Northeast Wildlife Society meeting in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., earlier this month. Rounsville has received a number of other awards in his discipline while at ESU, but most recently was selected by the university’s Graduate Advisory Council to be the 2013 recipient of the Mickey W. and Mary Lou (Gaydos) Karaffa Graduate Annual Scholarship for his dedication to the ideals of knowledge, leadership and service in his field of study, biology. Rounsville is currently employed as the laboratory manager at the Northeast Wildlife DNA Laboratory.

This is the second year for the PASSHE Business Plan Competition, designed to provide student entrepreneurs a real-world opportunity to pitch their original business plans and to compete for funds to assist in the start-up of their businesses. Judges for the competition were Michael Gildea, president of Brain Gain, LLC; Pam Martin, director of the South Central Region, Ben Franklin Technology Partners; David Dentler, board member, Pennsylvania State Employee Credit Union (PSECU); Finesse Cobb, vice president of APP Business Solutions; and Michael March, an analyst with Osage Venture Partners.

Last year, Jonathan Weber, a junior at ESU, won the first-ever PASSHE Business Plan Competition with his plan for a new web startup. He took first place, winning $10,000 to support business development, and a year’s office space in ESU’S Business Accelerator Program located in the ESU Innovation Center. This year’s top honors went to Krutarth Patel, a student from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) from Harrisburg, Pa., and his plan for Dorm Discount (.com), a service that would provide a unique self-service coupon creator and management system that business owners would use to generate, monitor and modify promotions easily and conveniently. Its goal would be to maximize savings to college students while boosting revenues for small business owners.

Paul Rosa of Wyomissing, Pa., and Sean Roth of Zionsville, Pa., both students at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, took third place with a proposal to create a social network that would allow sports fans to post 15-second video clips of themselves speaking about popular topics, which then could be viewed by a mass audience. It would give the user the ability to interact and reply to other fans’ video posts with their own video posts while experiencing smooth site navigation in an online sports community.

The winners of the competition will receive $10,000, $5,000 and $2,500 respectively, to be used as seed money to assist in the startup of their proposed business ventures. Students from the 14 PASSHE universities were invited to participate in the competition in the fall. A total of 210 student teams submitted their business ideas. Fifty-nine teams submitted full business venture profiles, from which 21 semi-finalists were initially selected, then narrowed to seven finalists who presented their business plans during a final program in Harrisburg last evening.

Embracing PASSHE’s philosophy of not only providing students a quality education, but also preparing them for their careers, the competition is sponsored by the PSECU, F&M Trust, PNC Bank, Hershey Entertainment & Resorts and JP Morgan and is partially funded by a Keystone Innovation Grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

For more information contact, Kenn Marshall, PASSHE media relations manager, at 717-720-4054, or 717-329-0809 (cell), or kmarshall@passhe.edu. For more information at East Stroudsburg University, contact Christopher Landino, coordinator, entrepreneurial leadership center, at 570-422-7995 or clandino@esu.edu.