University of Vermont

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Celebrating Entrepreneurship & Family Enterprise

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Over 100 people came out to support the 1st Celebration of Entrepreneurship & Family Enterprise on Saturday, October 6.  The celebration featured two inaugural events at UVM – an annual Business Pitch Competition and the UVM Family Business Awards, both sponsored by the School of Business Administration.

“During the past year we have added many experiential elements to enable students to translate their academic learning into practical applications.  We have also developed a significant focus on entrepreneurship and family business,” said Dean Sanjay Sharma, of the School of Business Administration.  “We are very pleased the Celebration of Entrepreneurship & Family Enterprise was such a success and look forward to making this event a tradition at the School.”

The Business Pitch Competition

The Business Pitch Competition, which was co-hosted by the UVM Entrepreneurship Club, featured four student business ideas all vying for $4,500 in start-up money.  The four businesses were:

·      Community Roots – an urban edible landscape business pitched by Dave Manago, an environmental studies major/business minor

·      KA-POW – an online coupon aggregator pitched by Abigail Beck, a 2012 School of Business Administration graduate

·      Doorack – a new storage system for ski and snowboards pitched by Max Ebenstein, a parks and recreation major

·      Cloud9 Treewalks  - aims to bring a popular model of ecotourism to the U.S., pitched by Graham Phelps and Asher Thompson, both parks and recreation majors

Each student/group was given five minutes to present their idea and took 10 minutes of questions from the judges:

·      David Aronoff, General Partner at Flybridge Capital

·      Lisa Groenveld, COO and Co-Owner at Logic Supply

·      Jim Keller, President of Green Mountain Business Consultants

·      Peter O’Connell, President of Champlain LLC

·      Bill Stenger, Co-Owner of Jay Peak

Max Ebenstein, founder of Doorack, was announced the winner of the 1st Business Pitch Competition.  He received $3,000 to start his business and a free entry to compete in the MassChallenge, a $1 million global accelerator program and startup competition.  

Dave Manago, of Community Roots, finished second and was awarded $1000, Abigail Beck, of KA-POW, came in third place and was awarded $500, Graham Phelps and Asher Thompson came in fourth and were given two season’s ski passes to Jay Peak, courtesy of Bill Stenger, co-owner of Jay Peak. 

The Business Pitch Competition was sponsored by David (’86) and Jessica Aronoff.

“What a great day,” said David Aronoff.  “It’s a fantastic start and may take a few years to evolve, but Rome wasn’t build in a day.”

Family Business Awards

Family businesses are a major driver in the world economy.  What may often start as an idea in the home, with determination and innovation grows into a business built to last.   The Family Business Awards honored alumni and Vermont-based businesses that have overcome the challenges of succession to achieve lasting success.

“Each of the winners has demonstrated a commitment to creating sustainable business through leadership and innovation,” said Dr. Pramodita Sharma, of the School of Business Administration.  “These dreamers and doers have found smart ways to combine family and work.”

The winners were: 

·      DLC Management Corporation, Tarrytown, NY – Stephen (’58) and Adam Ifshin, co-owners  - 1st Gen: UVM Founder led firms with multiple family members in ownership or operations

·      Sagamore Golf, North Hampton, NH – Richard Luff (’90)  - Multi-Gen – U.S. Based: Having completed at least one generational transfer within the family

·      Maple Landmark Inc. – Michael Rainville - Vermont Legacy Achievement Award: A Vermont based family business recognized for outstanding and lasting success

The judges for the Family Business Awards were:

·      Greg Bourgea – Co-Managing Partner, Gallagher Flynn & Co.

·      Scott Carpenter – President, Key Bank, Vermont

·      Steven Grossman (’61) – Former CEO, Southern Containers

·      John Hall (’85) – Chief Operating Officer, Rachael Ray, Inc.

·      Robin Tauck (’77) – President, Robin Tauck & Partners


Planning is already underway for the 2013 awards ceremony.