Business Plan Competition Heats Up as Final Round Nears

Nine student teams have made the cut to become semifinalists in the third annual Hospitality Business Plan Competition, but they still face two more rounds of elimination in their quest to earn the $15,000 first-place prize. The competitors have submitted comprehensive business plans, and they now await the results of their work and the announcement of the five finalists that will pitch their business concepts to a panel of hospitality executives and venture capitalists on Saturday, April 6, during the 88th annual Hotel Ezra Cornell.

“It is the combination of classroom instruction and meaningful experiential learning opportunities outside of the classroom that are the hallmark of great entrepreneurship programs. Business plan courses and competitions are such great tools in entrepreneurship education for that very reason. We know that we are hitting the mark with our business plan courses and this competition when we see students launching successful businesses and our corporate partners telling us that our entrepreneurship students tend to be ahead of their counterparts in the marketplace,” said Neil Tarallo, senior lecturer and academic director of the Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship, which organizes the competition.

The nine semifinalist teams are comprised of undergraduate and MMH students from the SHA, as well as students from the Johnson Graduate School of Management and the Baker Program in Real Estate. Semifinalists are:

• Agora Hellenic Grill – Martin Andonov ’13
• Cairn Tented Resorts – Robert Frisch MBA ’13 and Tara Lobo ’15
• InPlace – Pearl Somboonsong ’14
• SakuraTerra Hospitality – Shane Foster MMH ’13, Blake Golom MMH ’13, Zhuodan Huang MMH ’13, Satoko Nagahara MMH ’13, and Christopher O’Donnell ’13
• Solace – Spencer Stein ’14
• Voyage Lounge – Jessica Coulson BPRE ’13 and Julia Kosineski ’13
• The Forum – Navine Chhuon MMH ’13, Nora Hansanugrum MBA ’13, Kate Loh MMH ’13, and Enlin Zhou MMH ’13
• Quixand– Cathy Aronin ’14 and Andrew Paget MBA ’13
• Voila Mobile Creperie – Tareq Ali ’13, Ethan Joseph ’13, and Michael Perlman ’13

The competition is a valuable learning tool, giving students what is often their first experience in recognizing a market need and designing a business plan from the ground up. The competition also gives students a chance to connect with sponsors, judges, alumni, and other industry leaders who can provide the guidance and capital necessary for students to launch their businesses.

Thanks to sponsorship of the Sun family, Marriott International, and Four Seasons, the competition offers cash prizes to the top three teams, including a $15,000 first prize. Second prize is $5,000, and third place wins $2,500. Additionally, with the support of the Stein Family Prize for Disability and Environmental Sustainability Solutions, a prize of $5,000 will go to a concept directed at sustainability and accessibility. To learn more about becoming a corporate sponsor contact Kathleen Bolton at

For more information on the business plan competition visit the competition website or like the new Pillsbury Institute Facebook page.