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Students compete in Business Plan Competition

May 27, 2016
Teams from Professor Joe Stasio’s Entrepreneurship class pitched their business plans to a panel of seven experienced professionals for a chance to win the $1,200 prize.

“Great timing and a little bit of luck.” These are just some of the keys to success for the new businesses started by Professor Joe Stasio over the course of his more than 40-year career. Some of these businesses have been more successful than others, but each one offered him experience and learning opportunities. Some of his successful businesses include Mandees Pizza, Sleep-a-Rama,, and his latest venture,, where he is Director of Business Development.

This spring, he shared these entrepreneurial experiences and his extensive knowledge of new business development with his Entrepreneurship class, helping to develop the students’ creativity and problem solving skills.  After assigning several projects designed to develop their ‘entrepreneurial mindset,’ Stasio tasked the students with “developing creative solutions to problems and coming up with a wickedly good new product concept” as part of the Business Plan project and competition.

The students delivered, coming up with creative and interesting ideas for new products and services. After presenting their business plans during an initial round of judging, the teams were narrowed down to three finalists – Blue Case (a suitcase that will follow you via GPS/Bluetooth technology), Hello Sunshine (a device that is app-enabled to turn on a light to help wake you), and The Sophisticated Lady (a prom and formal dress rental shop).

The three teams presented to a panel of judges – which included Phil Bedard, Director of Manufacturing at CyPhy Works, Bob Eastman, Senior Vice President of Salem Five Bank, Kathy Fiore ’92, Managing Director of Corporate Audit at State Street Corporation, Tom McLaughlin, Co-Founder and Director at, Julie Nolan ’88, Host of The Julie Nolan Show, Jimmy Walker, Chairman and Co-Founder at, and Kevin Weeks, President of the Financial Counseling Association of America – and a crowd of more than 50 students and parents.

The winning team, The Sophisticated Lady, came up with their idea for a prom dress rental shop after talking to fellow students who mentioned how much easier (and, in many cases, less expensive) it is to rent a tux than to purchase a dress for a formal event. The teammates – Kaileen Cote ’18, Rachel Donahoe ’16, Molly Farrell ’16, and Erinn Johnson ’18 – initially struggled to come up with an idea.

“We kept throwing ideas out there, but all we could think of were products and businesses that were already out there,” said Farrell. But after talking to their fellow students, they discovered a need and did their homework to research their target market and come up with a strong plan.

It turns out, this research and their strong understanding of their target market set them apart. And, with a clear and concise presentation to the judges they earned the first place finish.

The take aways from this experience were real and tangible to the students. “Many factors go into starting a business. When we started our financials, we were amazed at what it would take to make this - the prom dress rental shop - happen. We all agreed that this project was an eye-opening real-world application and it helped us put what we’ve been learning in the classroom into action,” said Kaileen Cote.   

Cote and her teammates on the winning team will share in the $1,200 prize money. The second place team of Sreyleak Nop ’17, Christina Pernokas ’16, Tom Ubaldino ’17, Mance Walls ’18, and James Wegman ’17 will split $800. And, the third place team of Abigail Adams ’18, James Clark ’17, Paige Gilbert ’18, and Dan Resop ’17 will take home $400. 

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  • The winning team: The Sophisticated Lady
    The winning team: The Sophisticated Lady
  • The second place team: Hello Sunshine
    The second place team: Hello Sunshine
  • The third place team: Blue Case
    The third place team: Blue Case
  • Our panel of judges
    Our panel of judges

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