Cornell Student Entrepreneurs Vie in Hospitality Business Plan Competition

Dec 15, 2015

Contact: Kristen Ciferri, 607.255.0179, 

Cornell Student Entrepreneurs Vie in Hospitality Business Plan Competition 

Ithaca, NY, December 15, 2015 - Eight student teams will spend this winter working on their business concepts, as part of the annual Hospitality Business Plan Competition sponsored by the Leland C. and Mary M. Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship at the School of Hotel Administration (SHA). Three winning teams will share a total of over $35,000 in prizes, which may be used as seed money to help them launch their idea.

Between now and February 2016, the eight teams will be putting finishing touches on their written proposals, in hopes of advancing to the final round where they will pitch their concepts to judges during Hotel Ezra Cornell weekend in March 2016. In addition to cash prizes, the teams will gain the experience in conceptualizing, researching, and articulating a business idea, all skills they will need to successfully launch a business.

“The eight teams chosen to advance had the strongest overall executive summaries,” said Senior Lecturer Susan Fleming, a member of the judging panel. “We considered factors such as whether the target market size for the concept is sufficiently large and attractive for the company to eventually reach scale, and whether the proposed business model makes sense, so that the company can actually make money. We also considered whether the executive summary was well articulated and supported with data relating to potential demand and market barriers.”

This year’s teams are composed of students in Cornell’s SHA Master of Management in Hospitality program, SHA undergraduates, the Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell’s ILR School, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the College of Engineering.

Thanks to gifts from title sponsor, Steve Thomson ’82 and additional sponsors, Greg Dollarhyde ’80, MBA ’81, Elizabeth Golmsrud ’00 and Barbara Foote Shingleton ’75, Hersha Hospitality Trust, Marriott International, and the Sun family, Stanley Sun ’00 and his parents Dennis and Betty Sun, the competition provides $25,000 for the winning concept, which is the largest prize on campus offered exclusively to Cornell students. The second place winner receives $7,500 and $5,000 for the third place concept. Regardless of the outcome, the competition’s goal is to assist these student entrepreneurs in creating their new business.

The eight teams and their concepts are as follows:

Team Airspoon would offer a mobile app that reduces queuing time at airport quick-service restaurants by enabling the user to locate the restaurant, browse its menu, order, and pay online - all while sitting in the car or public transport. The team also proposes to arrange for delivery at the boarding gate.

Team Chill proposes to sell freshly made Italian Ice in a self-serve model with personal customization of flavors, mixes, and toppings.

Team Education City would offer a place where senior citizens can continue to learn, develop, and grow within their senior living space together with college and university students, particularly in an urban, education-focused setting.

Team IthaCave will create an urban wine destination that allows customers to walk among the tanks and barrels with the winemakers.

Team LastSecondBeach will offer one-price vacations for value-driven consumers seeking to book at the last minute, focusing on all-inclusive resorts and cruises that are selected according to customers’ preferences.

Team LGBT Senior Living will seek to provide a quality senior living option for elderly LGBT adults. The company plans to partner closely with the Pride Center in Fort Lauderdale and will create volunteer opportunities for residents.

Team Maidbot will offer hotels a robotic cleaner to assist room attendants in cleaning rooms and public spaces, saving money and improving safety and health of room attendants.

Team OVO will develop a luxurious, all-inclusive postnatal care center where mothers and their spouses can stay for up to three weeks to promote recovery and ease the transition to motherhood.

About the Cornell Hospitality Business Plan Competition
The purpose of the Cornell Hospitality Business Plan Competition is to provide an experiential learning opportunity to rising entrepreneurs and assist them in developing a professional business plan in the hospitality industry. The process involves direct interaction with experienced entrepreneurs and venture capital and equity investors. 

About the Leland C. and Mary M. Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship 
The Leland C. and Mary M. Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship, which opened in 2006, teams students with seasoned faculty and accomplished entrepreneurs to help them develop the knowledge, skills, and practical experience necessary to pursue their entrepreneurial ambitions. The Pillsbury Institute is also a source of information on creating a hospitality business, managing a small and family-operated business, purchasing a franchise, developing a corporate venture, funding a new venture, and being an innovator.