Fushi Sushi Wins $15,000 First Prize in Cornell Hospitality Business Plan Competition

Editor's note: Quick-service sushi concept Fushi Sushi won first place in the inaugural Cornell Hospitality Business Plan Competition, sponsored by the Leland C. and Mary M. Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship. Visiting Lecturer Susan Cabrera and PIHE managing director Tom Ward chaired the contest, which was made possible by lead support from the Sun Family (Stanley Sun ’00 and his parents, Dennis and Betty Sun) and from title sponsor Marriott International, Avendra, Chartres Lodging, and HotelPlanner.com. To learn more about the competition, contact Jennifer Macera at js372@cornell.edu.

By Daniel Mann ’11 and Sam Boochever CALS ’11, creators of Fushi Sushi

Over the course of this past year, we have spent countless hours developing a business plan for the first annual Cornell Hospitality Business Plan Competition. The business plan competition has been the most rewarding, educational, and influential experience of our college careers. It provided an amazing learning opportunity by requiring us to use the various skills learned in the classroom to achieve a tangible, real world objective. We met while studying abroad in Melbourne, Australia, which is where we developed the concept for Fushi Sushi, a sushi restaurant designed for on-the-go eating. We ate, often daily, at many sushi restaurants of similar style and often discussed the potential success of such a concept in the American market.

Midway through the semester abroad, we decided to write a business plan in an effort to capitalize on the opportunity we had identified. We spent the remaining six weeks doing market research, talking to restaurant owners, and discussing how to best adapt an on-the-go sushi concept for the American consumer. We left Australia with the goal of redefining the sushi experience in America. Upon returning to Cornell, we heard of the PIHE competition and were ecstatic; it provided the perfect opportunity and resources to test the merit of our idea.

Each round of the competition came with new challenges as we learned of the detail needed to create a successful business plan. First, we had to submit an executive summary, which taught us how to convey our idea to an outside observer concisely and effectively. Second, we had to create the actual business plan, which we worked on over the course of winter break. We needed to conduct market research, both through observation and empirically through survey testing, create a dynamic financial model with over 100 inputs, analyze market data, establish relationships with vendors, and reach out to industry professionals for advice. For the final round, we presented the Fushi Sushi concept in front of top industry executives at HEC [Hotel Ezra Cornell] 86. The presentation round required us to hone our public speaking skills and business pitch while indentifying any gaps in our concept so we could best defend our idea against any questions from the judges. We would like to thank all of the people who made this opportunity possible, specifically: Tom Ward, Susan Cabrera, our parents, all the judges, our advisors, and, lastly, the donors who made this opportunity happen.

The final presentation was almost exactly a year after we created this concept. The more we worked on it, the more passionate we became and the more we believed that we could turn our idea into a reality. After receiving positive feedback from the three judges, guests of HEC, and professors throughout the School of Hotel Administration, we have decided to actively pursue this venture post-graduation.