SARATOGA SPRINGS — Amid a global health emergency, the Kenneth A. Freirich Business Plan Competition at Skidmore College broke new ground in its 10-year anniversary.
Established in 2010 by Ken Freirich ’90, CEO of Health Monitor Network, with the intent of fostering entrepreneurship and creativity across all majors and disciplines at Skidmore, the “Shark Tank” competition has grown into one of the preeminent business competitions among liberal arts colleges nationally.
Adapting to the new normal, students, parents, alumni, faculty and staff were invited to watch this year’s competition online via the videoconferencing platform Zoom. The finalists — 11 students pitching nine business plans — played their pre-recorded final presentations and then answered live questions from the judges.
2020 competition winners:
First Place: Coven, Maya Ling ‘20 and Emily Egan ‘20: A bakery that infuses products for medicinal benefits. Prize: $20,000 cash plus $5,000 in business services.
Second Place: Z’s, Izaak Cohen ‘20: A lifestyle accessories brand. Prize: $10,000 cash plus $5,000 in business services.
Third Place: Natural Glow, Novilhelha Moleni ‘22 and Ha Linh Nguyen ‘22: A hair and beauty brand. Prize: $5,000 cash plus $5,000 in business services .
Fourth Place: VoyceMe, Dylan Telano ‘23: An online marketplace connecting unpublished writers with readers. Prize: $2,500.
Haja Bah ‘21 received a social entrepreneurship award of $5,000 for her business Uman 4 Uman Salone, a nonprofit that produces sustainable sanitary pads for young women in Sierra Leone. Four other businesses — Ingles para todos (Cyntia Ismael ‘22), Turf Ads (Colin Mahoney ‘21), Trot (Abigail Kaplan ‘20) and Edutrer (Naira Abdula ‘20) — received $1,000 each.
Freirich recently announced he will fund an endowment that will allow the competition to continue in perpetuity, pledging $500,000 toward the College’s goal of a $1 million fund. The experience begins each September with a call for entries and a series of workshops to help students prepare for the semi-final presentations.