With the growth of freestyle skiing into acceptance in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, three adventurous ski-advocates and business students landed on a creative idea for a business. And these three Saint Michael's College senior business majors beat out some superb competition to be named winners in the 2012 Saint Michael's College Enterprise Plan Competition at the finals held April 20, 2012, in the Pomerleau Alumni Center at Saint Michael's College.
The team of Matthew Benedetto of Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., Peter Engen of Conway, N.H., and Ashley Langlands of Shelburne, N.H. with their plan for Alliance Freeride company, took the first prize award of $5,000.
Second and third places went to Other Side of the Mountain by Denise Belanger and Benjamin Hodges, $2,500 prize, and Camp Hakuna Matata by Michael DeCristofaro and Alexandra Tashjian, $1,000 prize. The student plans were developed over a semester, sometimes two semesters. Seventeen plans were read by SMC faculty and narrowed to the five finalists that were presented to a panel of business executives who served as judges.
Enterprise Plan history
Established in the year 2000 and supported ever since by founders Peter and Kareen Worrell, the plan challenges SMC undergraduates to develop and market sustainable business plans to a panel of business leaders who serve as competition judges. Peter Worrell, managing partner of the Bigelow Company, is a former SMC trustee, and a 1979 graduate of Saint Michael’s; Dr. Kareen Kendrick Worrell is a 1977 SMC graduate. They are residents of Portsmouth, N.H.
Alliance Freeride business
"Alliance Freeride will be a unique retail enterprise specializing in the growing freestyle skiing market, with the additional goal of increasing awareness of this emerging sport," the team wrote in the executive summary to their 60 page business plan (with 8 pages of appendices).
The highly detailed, creative and insightful plan covered everything from mission and vision to an outline of company partners, products, a market analysis, a strategy and implementation summary, a web plan summary for web sales, measurable milestones, management summary, financial plan, and exit strategy. The financials include extraordinarily detailed projections, with graphs and bar charts and lots of numbers.
The business aims to strengthen the knowledge of freestyle skiing and to be a presence in the retail market. A flagship store in Burlington, Vermont, for seasonal and year-round business, will be supplemented by "a pop-up location" in Government Camp at the base of Mt. Hood, Oregon, where many freestyle skiing athletes train during June and August.
Their plan focuses on serving a niche market of the freestyle community not yet represented in Burlington. The location will tap into the youth vibe of the college town area, and will focus on nearby ski areas and vacation centers in Vermont, Northern New York, Quebec and Maine.
Among their products are traditional freestyle skis, rocker skis, ski poles, gloves and mittens, outerwear, helmets, eyewear, apparel and accessories. The business has creative ways of advancing eco-conscious consumerism and other features. Freeride skiing is an emerging sport on skis, that appears to use the same structural elements, the terrain park, that snowboarders use. The plan states that freeride is "about being an individual and expressing your own personal style."
The judges panel, consisting of five bankers, CEO's, investors and entrepreneurs, was tremendously impressed with the creativity and poise of all of the presenting teams. The judges were
Dan Browdy, a senior leader of Hubbarton Forge, most recently as COO. He was previously at Country Home Products of Vergennes, VT, and before that at Ben & Jerry's in Waterbury, VT.
Nicole Carignan, executive vice president and CFO of the SymQuest Group of South Burlington, VT.
Roger Frey, president and owner of Earl’s Cyclery & Fitness. He was previously VP for Silverado Companies in New York City, and president of J & R Ranch Stores in Pennsylvania.
Sean Gammon, CEO of Members Advantage Community Credit Union, a leader among financial cooperatives in Vermont.
Steven Magowan, CEO and president of Sunrise Management Services, LLC, an entity that, among other endeavors, invests in start-up and later stage companies.