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The HWS Update

Students Join Innovation Institute

The Pitch, an entrepreneurial-based competition for HWS students, is offering its semifinalist contestants a brand new training program over winter break that’s designed to hone their skills and enhance their idea proposals as they gear up for a shot at competing in the final round of the contest.

Called the Innovation Institute, the weeklong, intensive entrepreneur program, will be held from Monday, Jan. 13 to Friday, Jan. 17, and will feature business- and leadership-oriented training sessions facilitated by Centennial Center for Leadership (CCL) staff and consultants from neighboring institutions. Both The Pitch and the Innovation Institute are facilitated by CCL.

All of the Pitch semifinalists are scheduled to participate in the Innovation Institute. They are: Ato Bentsi-Enchill ’17, Morgan Bungerz ’15, John Darby ’14, Abbey Foote ’17, Dennis O’Connell ’16, Nicole Pastor ’16 and Chuck Seergy ’14. Each of the remaining contestants also have been paired with alum mentors who already have been helping them to develop their proposals.

“The Innovation Institute is an intensive program that we’ve put together to give The Pitch contestants an early start in developing their proposals to the best of their abilities,” says CCL Associate Director Amy Forbes. “The Pitch is in its third year and based on what we’ve seen, the Innovation Institute will be an opportunity for students to learn the details that go into creating a successful plan and equipping them with the skills necessary for being an entrepreneurial leader.”

Forbes says the Innovation Institute will give students perspectives on everything from strategic planning and negotiations to marketing and financials. She says the program aims to provide students the tools for building a solid foundation for taking their plans to the next level. Click here for an article about The Pitch, the semifinalists and their proposals.

This year’s Pitch mentors are: George Schwartz ’09, senior associate with Interactive Project Manager at SapientNitro; John Siff, president of Prairie Realty Advisors, Inc.; Susan Keller P’16, a lawyer, business adviser, most recently a partner at national law firm Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP; Rich Schwanke ’98, a senior manager with Under Armour Inc. and Frank Everett ’73, the founder of Thrive Frozen Nutrition; Suzanne Rutstein ’95, owner of JuJu, active lifestyle clothing store; Phil Lodico ’00, a co-founder, consulting firm Fairwinds Partner, LLC; Dr. Lowell Levine ’59, a forensic odontologist; director of the New York State Police Medicolegal Investigations Unit.

At the Innovation Institute, the participating consultants include: Mark Wilson, CEO of Initiatives Consulting LLC and founder and facilitator of Pre-Seed Workshop, professor at Simon Business School, University of Rochester; Rhett Weiss, senior lecturer of management, executive director at the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University; Professor Patrick Penfield, assistant professor of supply chain practice, Whitman School of Management, Syracuse University; and Edward W. Russell, associate professor, Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University.

Forbes says that by including faculty colleagues from other institutions is a great way to have the students connect and work with other professionals around entrepreneurial leadership.

With the contest just two months away, the judges for The Pitch have been named: Will Margiloff ’92, who is the CEO of IgnitionOne, and co-CEO and founder of IgnitionOne’s parent company, Innovation Interactive; Horace Allen ’85, who is founder and CEO of TeamPact, a non-profit social enterprise that mentors young African American and Latino men. Prior to this venture, Allen was the co-founder of Total Solutions Group, an IBM Business Partner technology integrator; and Jeffrey Burki ’76 who is a co-founder and LifeCare’s vice chairman & chief strategy officer where he evaluates emerging market strategies.

Following the Innovation Institute, each contestant will resubmit their updated proposal to a selection committee comprised of HWS faculty, staff and alums by Monday, Jan. 27. The Pitch finals will be held at HWS on Wednesday, March 12, 2014.