by Johanna Weeks
The 2021 North Country Regional Business Plan Competition is taking place March 26 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. online via zoom. Students with a business or start-up idea will compete individually or on a team to sharpen their entrepreneurial skills. This competition is an integral part of the entrepreneurship education program. It is a learning experience open to all students.
SUNY Plattsburgh associate professor of marketing and entrepreneurship Richard Gottschall has been involved in business plan competitions for 15 years. He said these competitions are important to motivate students and their understanding of entrepreneurship.
“It’s a great activity that gets people together to talk about their business ideas and it’s a very important part of the entrepreneurship education,” Gottschall said.
Students will compete in one of six different tracks: AgTech & food, energy & environment, military & first responder, tech & entertainment and consumer products & services. Melanie Feliz who started her business, Mel’s Delights, when she was 12 years old, said the competition has been beneficial to her.
“I’m very excited to share my business with others. I’m on the verge of planning for future goals such as opening my own shop, expanding my services and product line as well,” she said. “Mapping that out has helped me better focus on what I want to do with my business on a long-term basis. I am super passionate about my business as well as entrepreneurship because I am very big on going out and doing things on my own for myself.”
Competing against others who have the same interests is beneficial and motivating. Gottschall explained that competitions offer students the opportunity to push themselves.
“If you want to be an entrepreneur, you have to do the things that entrepreneurs do,” Gottschall said. “Pursuing an entrepreneurial venture makes classroom learning more relevant.”
According to Olivia Forcino, a SUNY Plattsburgh entrepreneurship and marketing major, the research, pictures, and floor plans she made gave her a good understanding that her business plans are feasible and if she decides to go through with it, she has a great base plan. Forcino said the hands on experience was helpful.
“I really enjoyed the competition. It gave me the opportunity to actually create a business plan and think about my future plans,” Forcino said.
The competition offers cash prizes. In addition, students have a chance to network and make connections with mentors. Winners can earn up to $2,000 and start making connections with professionals such as lawyers or accountants.
“Entrepreneurship gets more serious at some point than a class assignment, it’s self motivated,” Gottschall said. “There’s the potential to get a lot out of it.”