After a semester full of workshops, research, and plan composition, students presented their business ideas at the Entrepreneurial Club’s first annual Venture Competition on April 11.
The winner of the competition, senior Max Eve, pitched his idea to create a device that would measure the amount of energy emissions from an outlet, record the costs of energy consumption, and send these calculations to a person’s smartphone.
His business, named “Feltric” to stand for future electric, would appeal to anyone who pays for electricity.
“The power strip would measure how much energy each device uses throughout the day,” Eve said, “and would show consumers where their money is going. Knowledge is power and having the ability to understand energy consumption gives consumers the chance to change their habits and conserve.”
The average cost of energy per person each year is $1,300. Eve’s business would help the consumer save money and energy, he said.
“Feltric is a simple product and similar devices are already on the market and are seeing success,” he said. “However, my device would send readings right to a person’s phone and would measure costs. It is also self-contained and convenient so anyone can use it.”
He estimates the device would be on the market for $40 to $60 and would make energy saving fun, interesting, and competitive. He used the example of neighbors competing to see which household will save the most money and energy with these devices.
Judge and business owner Bernie English said the reason the judges chose Eve’s business as the winner of the competition was because of his presentation style and the possibility of his plan becoming a reality.
“Max Eve was quick on his feet, his presentation and plan were to the point, and he incorporated a little bit of humor,” English said. “A relaxed presentation goes a long way.”
Eve was rewarded with an iPad and connections to start up his business if he chooses to.
Sophomore Kelley Bryant also presented her plan to create a recess program at the College. Her non-profit group would allow students to come together and participate in teambuilding games and individual tournaments such as capture the flag, four square, soccer, relay races, whiffle ball, and so on.
“This group would not be an obligation for students,” Bryant said. “It would simply be something fun for students to do, would get students active, and would create hands on education.”
She would also look to revamp local elementary school playgrounds as a volunteer project and would try to make her club count for a physical education requirement for dedicated attendees.
Seniors Andrew Roiter and Brett Hinchliffe presented on the idea of a Hookah Lounge in North Adams. Their business would be called “Elysium” and would appeal to college students and young adults who are interested in Hookah or a place to relax and meet others.
“Hookah smoking is a recent and growing phenomenon in the United States,” Hinchliffe said. “However, there is no place for people to go who want to smoke Hookah. Our lounge and café would provide a relaxed atmosphere for anyone to visit.”
Their business would include a selection of Shisha flavors, a small but diverse menu of foods, and premium coffee and tea, Hinchliffe said. They would also bring in herbal Hookah for customers who are looking for something tobacco and nicotine free.
“It would be a low risk business with little competition,” he said. “We would have a small staff of three servers and experienced owners. We would hope to work with local businesses and restaurants in order to work together to bring more people to the Berkshires.”
Their goal is to bring meditation to the Berkshires, to provide a touch of Mediterranean culture, and to mix up the monotony of the classic dinner and a movie date, Hinchliffe said.
Other business presentations included Joseph Harding’s International Art Emporium to reintroduce lost Haitian art to the population and Giancarlo Bravo’s plan to create a wellness website, called “Betterme.com,” in order to provide individual plans and tips on health, exercise, and self-improvement for students and teachers in high schools and colleges.
Senior and Entrepreneurial Club president Michael Lattanzio said he enjoyed the passion and professionalism behind each presentation.
“Although each plan is still in the developing process, each contestant had a great handling on their idea,” Lattanzio said. “The competition really came together; it was great to see the Small Business Development Center, the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce and the MCLA faculty, staff, and students work together to create this.”
He said he anticipates the competition to grow within the next couple of years. For next year, the club hopes to raise money for the contestants and to start the competition in the fall semester to allow students more time to construct their plans.
Junior and club Vice President James Wetzel said he has received positive feedback from the attendees and especially from the administration, who have shown their support throughout the competition.
“One great suggestion made by Tom Alexander was to hand out a certain amount of monopoly money to each audience member and after the presentations people could ‘invest’ that money to the business they think is the best,” Wetzel said.
He also wants to thank Lattanzio for bringing the competition together and for his hard work.
“Mike had this amazing idea to start this competition,” Wetzel said. “Not only that but the club was still in its first semester of creation and we did not even have a budget. It takes dedication and vision to bring an idea up off the ground like that, and this is one of the reasons why wherever Mike chooses to go after graduation this spring, his qualities will immensely benefit the people and community around him.”