ESU Graduate Student Wins State System’s Fifth Annual Business Plan Competition
Blaise Delfino, a graduate student at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania who developed “Fader Plugs,” designed to protect the wearer from harmful noise, won the $10,000 first place prize in the fifth annual Student Business Plan Competition sponsored by Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education. This is the second time that ESU won first place in the competition with Jonathan Weber ’15, winning $10,000 in 2011 for eDentified. In 2012, Thomas Rounsville M’12, won the $5,000 second place prize for his company Wildlife Integrative Forensics.
“The faculty and staff at ESU have displayed great support, compassion and excitement as I embark on my journey of founding Fader Plugs, LLC,” said Delfino. “I consider myself both lucky and blessed to be a student at East Stroudsburg University. The faculty members and the staff tied to the University’s business accelerator and entrepreneurial leadership center truly care about the success of their students and they want to see them succeed; they are willing to go the extra mile. Words just can’t express how thankful I am for their continued support and belief in me as a student, an entrepreneur and CEO of Fader Plugs LLC.”
Delfino, a licensed hearing aid dispenser and audio engineer, is a graduate student studying speech-language pathology at ESU, where also earned his bachelor’s degree in speech-language pathology in 2014. His winning entry in the competition, Fader Plugs, are designed to provide for “controlled decibel reduction in a highly functional and fashionable design.” Delfino’s winning business plan included a blueprint for research and development followed by commercialization of the product. For the complete story on Blaise, click here.
A total of 223 students/student teams submitted their intent to compete in the competition last fall including 27 from ESU. Of those, 109 made it through the first round of judging, from which 17 entrants were selected as semi-finalists. Ten teams were selected as finalists, three of them from ESU:
- Edmond Hawi from East Stroudsburg, Pa., will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and continue to expand Failure2Fail, a silkscreen production facility that incorporates the company’s trademarked logo into active wear/sports apparel. For Edmond’s complete story, click here.
- Tammy Tuckey, a sophomore from Ambler, Pa., who’s majoring in business management with a minor in communication, continues to grow her podcast, The Tiara Talk Show, which focuses on individual interviews of members of the Disney Company. For Tammy’s complete story, click here.Another ESU student, Rebecca Connolly ’16, a business management major with a concentration in accounting, was recognized as a semi-finalist for her company Equi Vogue, which plans to import premium warm-blooded equines (horses) from Europe. Rebecca is the lead scorer in the Cachione Cup, an equestrian hunt jumping competition.
“I believe the name of our strategic plan, Students First: Innovate ESU, sets the tone for faculty and student involvement in programs such as the Business Plan Competition,” said President Marcia G. Welsh, Ph.D. “Students working collaboratively with faculty from various disciplines as well as the staff of our business accelerator program and entrepreneurial center really help to prepare learners like Blaise, Edmond and Tammy for a professional future in a constantly growing and evolving world. These students represent ESU at its finest.”
Delfino and Hawi also received top recognition for the Student Choice Award portion of the competition. Delfino took first place honors having the most viewed YouTube video with 4,250 hits and Hawi took second place for the best poster depicting his business model for Failure 2Fail.
The annual Business Plan Competition is designed to provide student entrepreneurs a real-world opportunity to pitch their original business plans and to win funds to assist in the start-up of their businesses. Students from the 14 State System universities are invited to participate in the competition each year. The first-place prize was donated by the Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union, the event’s platinum sponsor.
Second place in the competition went to David Tini, a student at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, who developed “Hot Lips,” an attachment to the mouthpiece of brass musical instruments. The third-place prize went to Brendan Shepherd of Clarion University of Pennsylvania, who developed a plan to establish a home remodeling business. Growth of the company will be into residential rental properties and real estate development. The second- and third-place winners received $5,000 and $2,500 respectively, to be used to assist in the further development of their proposed business ventures. The runners-up awards were donated by PNC Bank and J.P. Morgan.