The 2018 Entrepreneurship Symposium
By Michael Gallo ’19
On November 18th, fellow senior Adriana Facchiano and I competed in the 4th annual Michael Karapetian Entrepreneurship Symposium, hosted at Moravian College. We arrived at the Sally Breidgegam Miksiewicz Center for Health Sciences building and were greeted by Gary Kaskowtiz, professor of economics and business, who has facilitated this event over the past four years in partnership with Michael Karapetian, a trustee of Moravian College and himself an entrepreneur. After some opening remarks from President Grigsby, participants moved directly into the first round of presentations. Students entered the symposium in one of two categories: the traditional business proposal or a new category titled “Passion Projects.” This category welcomed projects that weren’t necessarily based on a profitable model but fit students’ passions and needed a well-managed business plan for implementation and sustainability.
During the first round, we had 5 minutes to pitch our concept to a panel of judges with extensive and varying experiences in the business world. Twenty-two students in total presented a wide range of ideas, from developing a nutrition platform with the Moravian app to opening an on-campus barbershop to designing an apprenticeship program for recent high school graduates.
Adriana and I presented our passion project, for which we had already begun the groundwork during the fall semester. We proposed a plan for the expansion of two programs that served to alleviate student food insecurity at a local elementary school, and we developed a model to ensure these programs were sustainable over time.
After everyone made their first-round pitch, six finalists were selected to move on to the next round, including Adriana and me. But first we broke for lunch and a presentation from Michael Karapetian who talked about his experience and offered advice to our generation of business leaders and social entrepreneurs.
Afterward, Adriana and I made our final presentation, which was much more in-depth than our initial pitch and addressed in detail what could go wrong and how to adapt and be flexible if certain project aspects changed. There were a number of very-well-thought-out proposals, and the judges began deliberation after the final presentation.
As Michael Karapetian read off the list of winners, Adriana and I were absolutely ecstatic to hear that our passion project had won first place! We accepted the grand prize of $3,000 with smiles on our faces, knowing that we had already decided to donate the prize money in full directly to the school we were partnering with on our passion project to ensure its completion.
The experience overall was tremendous and gave all of us an opportunity to practice various professional skills that undergraduates need to develop in order to be competitive and effective in today’s environment. Adriana and I wish a warm congratulations to the other winners and thank everyone who helped make the symposium a reality.
Second place went to John Hargraves IV ’20 for his on-campus barbershop.
Third place went to Woody Battle ’19 for Paradigm Apprenticeships, a program for recent high school graduates.