May 26, 2022


Skillful Business Crafters

(WATCH) Making their pitch: Students and residents share business concepts at GCC competition | Top Story

BATAVIA — Sixteen people, mostly students, put their business ideas out there before judges and an audience Tuesday at Genesee Community College’s Business Pitch Competition.

Director of Business Programs/Assistant Professor of Business Dr. Lina LaMattina said there were 15 students from GCC and one man from the community who walked in and said he wanted to speak about an idea.

“We said, ‘Why not? Do it.’ We actually have a few people from the community that came in just to watch as well, which is good. It’s open to anyone,” she said.

LaMattina said the presenters had some great ideas. Prizes of $100 were available for first place and $75 for second place in the “Most Realistic” and “Most Creative” categories.

Several GCC students made their business idea pitches in front of Judges on Tuesday at the college on April 19, 2022

Second-year GCC student Kayla Warwick of Attica had Swif-Tea Cafe on her mind Tuesday.

The company would have a Taylor Swift theme, she said — with drinks, decorations, karaoke.

“It’s just a big destination place for all. You can be a Taylor Swift fan. Anybody could come and enjoy this fun atmosphere while drinking delicious drinks,” she said. “I love Taylor Swift and I love coffee, so combining the two, I thought, would be a great idea. I’ve just been a fan of Taylor Swift. She’s noticed me on TikTok. She’s invited me places. I just thought this would be a great opportunity and idea to combine my two favorite likes — coffee and Taylor Swift.”

Standing before judges Kelly Bermingham and Jim Krencik, Warwick was nervous at first, she said later.

“Once I started talking and setting it up, it wasn’t as bad,” she said. “I thought it was going to be a lot worse than it actually was.”

Speaking to the judges, she said as far as customers for the business, a lot of her friends are Taylor Swift fans and that Swift has so many followers, there have to be other people in the area who know who know who the singer is.

“We would try to be open from around 8 or 10 a.m. to around 5 or 6-ish, depending on the day,” she said. “The plan is to have a local bakery provide baked goods so that we could help another small business as well.”

Warwick said Swif-Tea expects about 1,200 customers a month starting off. Specialty drinks would be $4.50 per cup. Plain coffee or tea would be less, maybe $2.50 or $3.50 depending on the item.

Travis Gotts was there to make a pitch for Schucky Ducky’s, a restaurant that would make specialty burgers and garbage plates. The food would be adaptable to various dietary needs, he said.

There would be vegetarian options, for example, such as bean sauce adapted from his grandmother’s bean soup recipe, he said.

Workers would be paid at least $15 per hour to start, $16 if they have prior food service experience. For every 10 hours of work, they’ll receive a point.

“Those points can be redeemed for a larger bonus at the end of the year or paid time off throughout the year,” he said.

“We do not currently have a location set up. There are multiple places I’m looking at and if they’re open by the time I get around to actually being able to physically make this happen, they will make the perfect place,” he said. “It will be in Medina. When it comes to burgers and garbage plates, there are only two places that can say they have a specialty burger of their type. There are no places that focus on burgers or garbage plates.”

Brielle Jennings, a freshman from Syracuse talked about a business she runs there called BriixBandz clothing.

“My marketing opportunity is high-quality clothing at an affordable price,” she said. She said the lead time on orders is about two to three weeks, sometimes faster than that.

Her company vision includes seeing people walk around in her brand, storefronts worldwide, and seeing her clothing brand on runways.

“Revenue will be earned from the sales of my product. The pricing depends on the design and the material,” she said.

Marine Corps veteran Al Kurek of East Pembroke said he was at the Business Pitch Competition to briefly talk about an idea he and others are working on for a military museum in the county. It’s something veterans could work on making a reality, he said.

Kurek said he is with the Genesee County Veterans Association, trying to see if there’s enough interest in starting a military museum or military society.

“Freedom is not free and we want to preserve the rich history of our military and honor our living and dead veterans from the local area,” he said before the presentation.

As to the museum’s name, Kurek said, “It’s going to be up to our board of directors once we establish one. I’ve got half a dozen ideas, but nothing yet.”

LaMattina said the business presentations included some about businesses students are already running.

“We had Brielle (Jennings) who came in. She is a fashion major. She already has her clothing line. She’s outsourcing the production of the line,” LaMattina said.

One student wants to open a home-remodeling business, focusing on kitchens. LaMattina said she thought that was a fabulous idea.

“You don’t see a lot of women in that field. I said, ‘Good for you, you’ll be a role model for others to do that,” she said.

LaMattina said the GCC didn’t care what kind of business someone was pitching.

“Researching it, look into it. We try and guide them as they’re doing that and then they pull it together and present,” LaMattina said. “Some of the students are very detailed. Others are still a little more tentative,but it’s OK. This is a great, kind of a playground, almost. Pitch the idea, field some questions.

“Sometimes what will happen is, they’re researching it and they get very caught up in that world and they don’t know what they don’t know,” he continued. “They haven’t gone out yet. They haven’t been asked certain questions. They haven’t faced some of the challenges .That’s why it’s good for them to get in front of the judges.”

The judges will offer questions and feedback.

“It’s good for them to have to answer the questions and grow a little bit,” she said.

LaMattina said if students haven’t opened businesses, Tuesday’s pitch could help open their eyes to potential challenges that could get in their way if they don’t address them.

“If they’ve already started their business, sometimes this banter back and forth with the judges opens their eyes to other opportunities,” she said.

GCC business club gears for upcoming pitch challenge. Brian Kemp of T-Shirts Etc. gives the group a first hand look into his business on Thursday April 7th, 2022.

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