Student entrepreneurs win Launch It competition at SUNY Oswego


September 25, 2017

SUNY Oswego seniors Samantha Boyle and Madison St. Gelais recently won the finals of the inaugural Launch It competition showcasing student entrepreneurs at the college, much as "Shark Tank" does with risk-taking business people on the ABC television network.

The winning app proposal, Bunk, would allow students looking for off-campus housing to safely connect with potential roommates and verified and rated landlords, as well as view video tours of the properties. Boyle and St. Gelais won $1,000 and the opportunity to represent the college and its School of Business in Oswego County's upcoming business plan competition.

Launch It featured teams of students pitching their ideas for startup businesses, with advice from business executives. SUNY Oswego's Enactus chapter, a student group embracing entrepreneurship through community service, led organization of the competition.

The competition tries "to harness the ideas and the energy and the enthusiasm of the students in a multidisciplinary environment" around business, technology, engineering, communications and the sciences, said School of Business Dean Richard Skolnik.  

The idea originated with two Oswego students: Jordan Shutts, an Oswego accounting graduate now in its MBA program and past Enactus president, and senior marketing major Eli VanOrman, current president of Enactus.

Mentors included Kevin Stickles, SUNY Oswego class of 1990 and senior vice president of human resources, and Duane Hutt, human resource manger, both of Wegmans Food Markets; Robert Colangelo, president at Colangelo Innovation Group; 2011 graduate Kayla Doan, innovation program manager for Constant Contact; and 2015 graduate Sarah Miller, innovation associate for AARP.

Business professionals also judged the Launch It finals Sept. 15 in Marano Campus Center auditorium: 1978 alumnus Dennis Shuler, consultant at Bain Capital Ventures; Austin Wheelock, deputy director at Operation Oswego County; Chena Tucker, director of the college's Office of Business and Community Relations; and 2011 alumna Paloma Sarkar, assistant vice president of credit risk at Pathfinder Bank.

"(The competition) just gives us that reassurance that everything will be OK … and that we have SUNY Oswego as a campus supporting us and knowing that it's creating these kind of alums coming out of SUNY Oswego," said junior economics and finance major Ahmed Albajari, whose Laker Hackers team took second place. "It just brings hope and allows us to keep striving and push for greater things."

Sponsors of Launch It included Enactus, the School of Business and the Office of Business and Community Relations. For more information, visit, email or call 315-312-3168.


Winning pitch -- SUNY Oswego students Samantha Boyle (left front) and Madison St. Gelais display their pride and their prize for making the winning pitch in the inaugural Launch It entrepreneurial business competition at the college. Organizers and judges of Launch It join them in Marano Campus Center auditorium, site of the Sept. 15 finals.