SMC students win cash prizes at event

March 8, 2018
Office of Marketing and Communication

A team composed of five Saint Michael’s College students, accompanied by Professor Robert Letovsky of the Department of Business Administration & Accounting, competed in the 6th annual “Free Enterprise Marathon” (FEM) held at the State University of New York on March 2, 2018.  As in past years, the team earned cash prizes in both the individual and team events.

The FEM, sponsored by the Charles Koch Foundation, boasted its largest field ever with 12 colleges and universities from New York, Vermont and New Hampshire. Cash prizes were awarded for the best individual short speeches on an assigned topic related to entrepreneurship, and for the top 5 teams in the “Team Creativity and Innovation Challenge.”

The Saint Michael’s College team was composed of Business majors Alexander Colletta ‘18, Elizabeth Consentino ‘18, Eric de Blasio ’18 (BU/AC), and Benjamin Guilmette ’19, and Biology major/BU minor Sarah Mendoca ’18.

Ben Guilmette was the Saint Michael’s representative in the “Free Enterprise Speak Off,” delivering a 4-minute speech on “What it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.” Guilmette, who drew the 12th and final spot in the presentation order, focused his speech on the importance of persistence and the ability of entrepreneurs to recover from setbacks. His passionate presentation earned him the $500 2nd prize.

Following the morning’s “Speak Off” competition, Guilmette joined the rest of the team for the “Team Creativity and Innovation” round.  This year’s challenge to the 12 student teams was to develop new uses and markets for Kerdi-Board, a proprietary waterproof building panel produced by Schluter Systems L.P. of Plattsburgh, NY. The assembled student teams received a briefing from two of the company’s lead engineers and were given promotional material along with a small sample of the actual product. After the briefing, the teams were assigned to separate meeting rooms and given three hours to prepare a 5-minute presentation to be given to a panel of judges. Among the judges were Schluter executives and several other local businesspeople.

The Saint Michael’s team’s presentation offered three alternative uses and markets, beginning with the RV industry and moving on to two innovative building applications. The team’s presentation, which included data on RV sales trends and estimates of the demand this market could generate for Kerdi-Board, drew a number of favorable comments from the Schluter executives and was awarded the 4th place prize of $500.

Letovsky praised the team’s poise and professionalism in both events. He also noted that the quality of their presentations reflected the extensive experience that Saint Michael’s students have in making presentations, as well as the hard work the team put in during practice sessions leading up to the event.

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