University of Vermont

Parks, Recreation, & Tourism Entrepreneurs Win UVM Competition!

Senior Zach Palladino takes first prize in UVM's Entrepreneurship Competition for his business plan: Suspended Time Skydiving LLC.
Senior Zach Palladino takes first prize in UVM's Entrepreneurship Competition for his business plan: Suspended Time Skydiving LLC.

Zach Palladino, a senior Parks, Recreation and Tourism (PRT) major, took first place and the $2,500 cash prize in the annual UVM Entrepreneurship Competition, held April 26, 2014 at the Davis Center.  His well-developed business plan introduced Suspended Time Skydiving LLC, an exciting venture proposed for the local area. 

UVM’s version of the popular “Shark Tank” television series brings entrepreneurial students from across campus together to pitch their business plans to a panel of professional judges, usually highly successful UVM alums who understand the critical elements of a start-up venture.

The annual UVM competition is a collaborative event created by faculty in the Rubenstein School, the School of Business, and the Community Development and Applied Economics program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, each of which offer courses or a program focused on entrepreneurship.

In the Rubenstein School, the young entrepreneurs are students in Senior Lecturer Dave Kaufman’s Entrepreneurship in Recreation and Tourism class.  Students are required to create a business and develop a comprehensive business plan to launch the business.  They are encouraged to enter the UVM competition as a way to gain experience pitching a business concept, as a resume builder, and as a shot at winning some real money, from $2,500 for first place to $750 for third place and $100 gift certificates for fourth and fifth places.

The 2014 competition featured two tracks for entries: the Business Plan track for businesses “ready to launch” and the Business Concept track for those businesses well on the way to reality, but not quite “ready to go.” Of almost two dozen total entries in the preliminary round, five in each track were selected by a panel of preliminary round judges to move into the 2014 final competition. 

Final presentations were limited to less than ten minutes, plus five minutes for the competitors to respond to the finalist judges’ questions.  Students proved to be quick to think on their feet in front of the judges, answering questions that ranged from staffing to marketing and the financials of the proposed business.

Zach's first place in the Business Plan track was followed by senior PRT major Adam Becker’s On Target LLC, taking third place for his indoor shooting range.  PRT minor Emily Shindell followed with her plan for Adventrekkers LLC, a specialized group tour travel company.

The Business Concept Division saw PRT minor Mike Horvath win with his concept for Freeze Frame Adventures LLC, a Park City, Utah based personal videography business; followed in second place by Mountain Charter LLC, a sophisticated minibus transportation system created by PRT major Erin Shultz and PRT minor Shelby Losier.  They were followed by PRT major Jason Marchand’s Senomazi Groovelands, a music festival venue.

“The professionalism of all the plans and concepts, created in the tight time frame of a single semester is always impressive to me; these young people come to the realization that they really can set out on their own in business, if they choose to do so, and that is really cool,” states Dave Kaufman.