Rosman, Shen-Orr tap winning solution in bottled water competition

May 29, 2009

Contact: Tom Ward., 607.255.1217,


Johnson Graduate School of Management students Jessica Rosman ’09 and Tamar Shen-Orr ’10 earned top honors in Cornell University’s campus-wide H2O Competition, Finding Solutions to the Bottled Water Controversy, at the Enterpeneurship@Cornell celebration held in April. Rosman and Shen-Orr earned the $3,000 prize from event sponsor the Leland C. and Mary M. Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship at the university’s School of Hotel Administration. The winners received their award from James Quest, professor and Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the school and founder of the competition.

Rosman and Shen-Orr’s winning concept, “Ban the Bottle,” is a four-phase, pilot plan that seeks to significantly minimize use of small plastic water bottles within Harrah’s Casinos in Las Vegas. Their clear, creative and scalable approach, in which they addressed the bottled water situation in the hotel and casino market, won the praise of judges. With the success of their pilot, Rosman and Shen-Orr hope to see adoption by other similar organizations.

“This team produced a plan that was superior because it combined a solid conceptualization of a real situation and delivered a pragmatic and achievable solution,” Quest said. “Because of its institutional focus, this plan is capable of making big contributions to the problem in a relatively short period of time.”

Said winners Rosman and Shen-Orr, “We knew that if we wanted businesses to take us seriously we had to keep asking ourselves: ‘What's the bottom line?’ We wanted to put together an actionable plan and make a measurable difference. That meant really describing exactly how you start, where you are going and what it would save tomorrow."

More bottled water is consumed in the U.S. than any other market. As consumption has grown, however, so has concern over the resulting environmental impact. In response to those concerns, Quest launched this initiative last fall with the help of the Pillsbury Institute to challenge the Cornell community to come up with a solution.

The competition attracted more than a dozen teams from across campus. Teams presented an array of thoughtful concepts ranging across new packaging ideas, public policy reform, and new filtering systems. Entrant submissions were judged on quality of the content; scope of potential; logic flow and organization of rationale; and quality of communication.

Three finalists were selected by a panel of ten judges comprised of leading entrepreneurs, industry experts and scholars, including Cornell professors Bruce Ganem (Chemistry and Chemical Biology), James Quest (Hotel Administration), and Jennifer Wilkins (Nutritional Sciences). Finalists presented their solutions during the annual Entrepreneurship@Cornell Celebration.

Thomas Ellingham ’10 (Human Ecology), Rahkeem Morris ’10 (Agriculture and Life Sciences), and Kimberley Schroder ’09 (Agriculture and Life Sciences) received second place honors and $1,500 for their introduction of the “Wallaby Pouch,” a reusable and compact pouch made from plant starches and sugars. Third place and $1,500 was awarded to Kelly Chess ’11 (Hotel Administration), Mariko Fujio-White ’12 (Hotel Administration), Claire Miziolek ’09 (Arts and Sciences), Amanda Pinto ’11 (Arts and Sciences), and Jessica Zhang ’10 (Arts and Sciences) for their “Trust the Tap” campaign promoting alternatives to bottled water.