Announcing winners of 2015 Hospitality Business Plan Competition for Cornell student entrepreneurs

May 18, 2015

Contact:  Kristen Ciferri, 607.255.0179,

Announcing winners of 2015 Hospitality Business Plan Competition for Cornell student entrepreneurs
Ithaca, NY, May 18, 2015 – Every year, the Hospitality Business Plan Competition (HBPC) gives teams of Cornell University students the opportunity to develop hospitality industry business concepts and enter them in a competition. The top three teams receive cash prizes ($15,000, $5,000, and $2,500) to help fund and actually launch their businesses.

The competition is hosted by the Leland C. and Mary M. Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration (SHA).

The five finalists in the 2015 HBPC presented their final presentations to a panel of judges on March 21, during Hotel Ezra Cornell (HEC)—an annual weekend-long educational conference and SHA tradition run by students—where the winners were subsequently announced as follows:

•    First Place: Modern Market (network of direct-to-consumer commissaries offering a subscription service that delivers fresh prepared gourmet meal components): Christina Elliott, MMH '15
•    Second Place: BrewMe (social network- and location-based mobile app for buying someone a drink, either an existing friend or a potential new acquaintance): Tucker Iida '16; Aigul Jumabayeva '16; Yuni Gao, MPS '16
•    Third Place: RedHead Wine (red wine with non-traditional production methods resulting in reduced seasonal supply limitations): Zach Berle '15; Gavin Hilder '17; Marisa Sergi, CALS '15; Elizabeth Shvidky, AEM '16

"The Hospitality Business Plan Competition is an example of the 'real-world' experiential foundation of SHA programs, with the added distinction that this event has the potential to help directly launch entrepreneurial careers," said Steve Thomson '82, title sponsor for this year's competition and one of the judges at the finals. "These students have shown considerable creativity and dedication in formulating these ideas and bringing them to life, and I'm truly impressed with their efforts."

HBPC winners who go on to launch their concepts face the same challenges as any other entrepreneurs, and so while it is not assumed that all will enjoy great success, some recent previous winners are getting traction:

•    2014: Saira: Harsha Chanrai, MMH '14; Felix Tabary '14.
Saira aims to provide hospitality training and placement for at-risk youth, and to train local employees for emerging tourism markets and reduce costly turnover. Saira is launching a pilot training program this summer by selecting six Spanish-speaking students from Los Angeles or New York City. They will do a short internship in NYC or LA and will then participate in a longer internship in Panama with the option to stay in Panama or return to the U.S. after completion of the internship.
•    2012: The DC Factory: Anukul Chandhok '12; Vijay Sundar '12.
The DC Factory concept was a collection of food kiosks based in New Delhi metro stations. Chandhok returned to India after graduation, has opened 15 fast-casual restaurants, and is doing approximately a quarter million in transactions every quarter. He is now operating under the company name Dana Choga's Kitchen.

Full list of 2015 sponsors
•    The Sun family (Stanley Sun '00 and his parents Dennis and Betty Sun), originating sponsor
•    Steve Thomson '82, title sponsor
•    Marriott Hotels, platinum sponsor
•    Preferred Hotel Group, platinum sponsor
•    Sweet Street Desserts, platinum sponsor
•    Avendra, gold sponsor
•    Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, gold sponsor

For more information on the HBPC in general, visit

For more information on the 2015 HBPC, visit

About The Leland C. and Mary M. Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship
Founded in 2006 with a generous gift from Leland Pillsbury '69 and his wife, Mary Pillsbury, the Pillsbury Institute provides support for seasoned faculty and proven entrepreneurs to help students envision their dreams, engage with others, and execute with excellence. The institute guides students in the study of entrepreneurship and innovation, connects them with successful hospitality entrepreneurs and innovators, and gives them practical experience to help them link classroom theory to real-world practice. The Pillsbury Institute is also a source of information about forming new hospitality businesses, managing small and family-run businesses, franchising, corporate venturing, new venture funding, and innovation.