April 23, 2012
Entrepreneurship was on full display at the Alumni Insider’s
View...Business Plan Competition and Expo. Underwritten by James W.
Christmas ’70CBA, this popular event allowed students to submit and
present their own comprehensive business plans in the hopes of
winning cash prizes.
A record 87 plans were submitted this year, with diverse ideas
ranging from nonprofit loan programs to healthy restaurants to even
eco-friendly wine bottles. Six were selected as finalists, and
these students presented their ideas in front of a panel of alumni
Students whose plans did not make the finals were able to display
their ideas at an expo held prior to the final presentations.
“It’s fantastic to watch these young men and women
showcase their very own business plans,” said Christmas, who also
served as one of the judges. “It’s really an invaluable experience
because students learn how to flesh out their concepts while
simultaneously finding out what it’s like to pitch an idea in front
of bosses and investors.”
One of the finalists was Lucky Fong’s — a healthy, all-natural
Chinese restaurant in the Lower East Side. Developed by Wallace
Chan ’12TCB, the Lucky Fong business plan outlined how the company
would grow from a small, family-oriented restaurant into a national
business with locations in multiple cities.
Chan received a number of helpful hints from the judges after
“The judges provided me with some great advice and a wealth of
insightful tips,” he said. “My restaurant is not a particularly
large-scale idea, so it’s something that I will definitely pursue
after I graduate. I’m grateful for this competition because it
helped me hammer out the logistics of my idea and get the ball
Another finalist was SkiN, a sports clothing line with an
innovative design, allowing users to conveniently store their iPods
and other electronic devices in their pockets during
“This competition was extremely helpful,” said Artem Vlasenko
’12MBA, one of the creators of SkiN. “Sitting down and developing
this business plan got us to think long and hard about the monetary
aspects of the idea. We came up with approximations of production
costs and hypothesized our expected profits. It was a tough task,
but very rewarding in the long run.”
Each of the finalists was paired with a special mentor who
helped them put the finishing touches on their business plans.
Scott Panzer, Vice Chairman at Jones Lang LaSalle, served as one of
these mentors and found the opportunity extremely rewarding.
“My goal was to help the students think outside the box,” Panzer
explained. “Hopefully I was able to provide a financial focus for
the students and help them transform their idea into something that
can truly be successful.”
Ultimately, Alejandro Rojas ’12TCB took first place in the
competition and received a $5,000 cash prize. His plan, called
Swapmania, is a fun and creative Web site that allows college
students to trade their possessions with one another.
It was Rojas’ third year competing in the program and he had
clearly taken past feedback into account. Christmas noted that
Rojas’ perseverance is a wonderful testament to how effective the
AIV...Business Plan Competition is.
“It’s quite rewarding to see Alejandro back again this year,”
Christmas said. “The first year, his plan was good. The second
year, it got better. But this time, it was exceptionally well
thought out and polished. He anticipated the judges’ questions and
it was clear that his idea had evolved considerably.”
Christmas added, “That’s what this competition is all about —
improving your ideas and learning what it takes to succeed. One
thing I’m sure of is that Alejandro and all of these other students
will have very successful careers.”