ESU Students Take Second and Third Place in State Business Plan Competition
East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania Students won the second and third place prizes in the seventh annual Student Business Plan Competition sponsored by Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education.
Amanda Layden, a senior at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania from West Babylon,N.Y., won the second place, $5,000 award in the competition with her plan for Organtick, a direct-to-consumer, all-natural tick repellent containing sunscreen protection. The product was developed to decrease the risk for a tick bite, ultimately decreasing exposure to tick-borne diseases. The product has been tested against the two most common ticks found in Pennsylvania and the northeast United States and “is intended for customers to use while participating in outdoor activities where ticks are abundant.”
Zachary Waldman and Samuel Neely from East Stroudsburg University captured third place and a $2,500 award in the competition for the development of Falchion Systems, a cybersecurity startup designed to help companies secure their computer networks and counter web-based social engineering attacks. Waldman and Neely are both juniors from Mechanicsburg, Pa.
Additionally, ESU graduate student Marc Gaudet, founder of Verified Elite Training Systems, won the Student Choice Award and $500 for the most viewed video on YouTube with 1,239 views.
“All of us at ESU are so proud of Amanda, Zach, Nick and Marc. They join an elite group of ESU graduates who have earned top honors in this competition and have gone on to become change agents in their perspective fields,” said ESU president, Marcia G. Welsh, Ph.D. “The foundation of their success is based on their tenacity to turn ideas into reality, coupled with ESU’s support of innovation and entrepreneurship through its mission, strategic plan and, most especially the faculty and staff who help our students navigate their journey.”
A Clarion University senior, Logan Chernicky, won the $10,000 first place prize for developing “Enhanced Visual,” a system that allows construction site managers to track the progress of their projects using drones and specialized computer software.
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 or expansion of their businesses. Students from the 14 State System universities are invited to participate in the competition each year. This year’s competition drew about 200 students/student teams.
“This is truly remarkable. If this doesn’t give you confidence in our future, I don’t know what will,” said State System Board of Governors Chairwoman Cynthia D. Shapira. “Confidence, and pride, in our students, in our faculty and in our universities. I congratulate everyone involved.”
State System Interim Chancellor Dr. Karen M. Whitney echoed Ms. Shapira’s comments.
“Talk about student success; just look around this room tonight,” Dr. Whitney said. “Each year, this competition brings out the best in our students. Many of the students who have participated in prior years have taken their plans and put them into practice, establishing successful businesses and fulfilling their dreams. I’m confident that trend will continue. This isn’t the last you’ll see or hear from this group of budding entrepreneurs.”
The awards were presented during a ceremony held in Reisner Dining Hall on the campus of Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania. Also selected as finalists in this year’s competition were:
- Awakened Wellness, developed by Jonathan Burton from Shippensburg University. Awakened Wellness would offer massage therapy, floatation therapy and mindfulness meditation.
- Gator Oil and Gas Services, developed by Colin Gasper from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Gator Oil and Gas Services provides support for major oil and gas operators and service companies in the Marcellus and Utica Shales.
- Hat Rack Games, developed by Tom Matteson from West Chester University. Hat Rack Game would create a story-driven strategy game with unique game mechanics and an interesting art style devoid of gender stereotypes that would appeal to a wide audience of gamers of all backgrounds.
- White Rapids, developed by Kevin White from West Chester University. White Rapids would establish a professional automotive cleaning and detailing company focused on meeting the demands of clients in the Delaware Valley.
Sponsors of this year’s competition were the Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union (PSECU), Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education Foundation, East Stroudsburg University Center for Research and Economic Development, Hershey Entertainment and Resorts and Marathon Studios Inc.,
Judges were Sara Weiser, financial education manager at the PSECU; Michael Gildea, founder and CEO of Brain Gain, LLC; Sheri R. Collins, deputy secretary for the Office of Technology & Innovation for the state Department of Community and Economic Development; and Steven Strumbris, director of the Small Business Development Center at Bucknell University.
Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education is the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth, enrolling more than 100,000 degree-seeking students and thousands more in certificate and other career-development programs. Collectively, the 14 universities that comprise the State System offer more than 2,300 degree and certificate programs in more than 530 academic areas. Nearly 520,000 State System university alumni live in Pennsylvania.
The State System universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania. The universities also operate branch campuses in Oil City (Clarion), Freeport and Punxsutawney (IUP), and Clearfield (Lock Haven), and offer classes and programs at several regional centers, including the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg and in Center City in Philadelphia.