Hudson Valley Students Make it to the Final Round of the New York State Business Plan Competition

May 8, 2024

A team of Hudson Valley students made it all the way to the second round of the New York Business Plan statewide finals on April 25.

Out of 140 teams competing in regional events throughout the state this spring, only 60 teams moved on to the statewide finals, and Hudson Valley’s team was the only one in the state competition’s final round from a SUNY community college.

Ameera Aftab, Lukas Donaghue, Ryan Connors and Adam Conklin
Lukas Donaghue, Ameera Aftab, Ryan Connors and Adam Conklin

The team - Ameera Aftab, Lukas Donaghue, Ryan Connors and Adam Conklin - presented the idea “Semester at Yours,” an online platform to help facilitate short-term furniture leasing for college students living off-campus. According to the team’s pitch, the Semester at Yours marketplace would foster a sustainable and affordable alternative to students just dumping their used furniture on the curb when their lease is up.

“Being the only community college, out of 60 teams, to make it to the state finals really showed me what was possible if the right support and help is given to students,” said Donaghue. “It also showed me how much space there is for community colleges to take in this competition. Out of 120 teams statewide who made it to the video stage of the state final, only three were community college teams.”

Aftab said the experience they were able to take away from the competition was invaluable.

“Being the only community college team in the state to make it to finals, we got to connect with college students from all over the state and Ivy League schools, too,” she said. “We also met with many mentors who have successful businesses all over the state and they shared their experiences with us.”

The team members are all part of Hudson Valley’s Entrepreneurs Club, which meets weekly with the goal of fostering pride and fellowship within the School of Business and throughout the college community, encouraging interest and activity in the fields of business and related areas.

Entrepreneurs Club advisors, Associate Professor Johanna Mather and Professor Danielle Blesi, said events such as the New York State Business Plan competition provide a great lesson in collaboration and gaining real world business experience.

“We live in a community that is a hub for education and innovation,” said Mather. “Students from all colleges have tremendous resources in the Capital Region, and it was a wonderful opportunity to bring all of these together for them. It was very important for students to see the resources and connections available to them in the Capital Region.”

“As educators, we are very fortunate to provide such an invaluable experience to our students and to all of those across the region,” said Blesi. “We are lucky to be supported by a community that encourages these aspiring entrepreneurs to set high standards and work toward their goals. We are also very grateful to all of the judges and members of our college community that supported the students and provided them with mentorship and a solid foundation for the future.”

For students interested in extracurricular experiences and opportunities such as the Business Plan Competition, Connors encourages them to take advantage of it.

“It’s an amazing opportunity,” said Connors. “Even if you don't feel like you know what you're doing, your idea and passion is enough. There are plenty of mentors out there to guide and assist you along the way and it gives real world experience and is an amazing networking opportunity.”

One other Hudson Valley team advanced out of the regional NYBP competition, which was held in Hudson Valley’s Bulmer Telecommunications Center, April 5. That team included students Austin Shulkin, Brooks Marcus and Ray Guiles.

“The Hudson Valley community is extremely proud of all of our students who created such unique and compelling business ideas for this competition” said President Roger Ramsammy. “Educational experiences and opportunities as such are truly difference makers in students’ educational journey.”

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