Fairfield Engineer Wins Connecticut Business Plan Contest
The entrepreneurial spirit of Fairfield University’s School of Engineering continues to flourish as evidenced by a student’s recent first place finish in the 18th annual Connecticut Business Plan Competition. The Entrepreneurship Foundation organized the event, in which 12 teams from colleges and universities around the state competed.
Fairfield graduate student Sai Krishna Vennam won for “Bollywood Bee,” his idea for a mobile app that allows Bollywood film fans to locate showings and stay abreast of the latest buzz about Indian cinema. To cultivate his business plan, Vennam has received a $1,500 cash grant, plus $2,500 in free legal services from the Stamford, Connecticut firm Kiernan Herner LLP.
“This is my 4th month in the United States and I love how people at our university encouraged me to get into the competition and win,” said Vennam, of Warangal, India. “I was an independent filmmaker in India and that is how the idea came up.”
“CareForMyPlant,” another School of Engineering team, also took part in the contest and received a four months membership in a new maker space at the Bridgeport Innovation Center.
“My business plan idea is an affordable Wi-Fi device that monitors plant conditions, such as temperature, soil moisture, humidity, CO2 levels, pH levels and the amount of sunlight,” said the team leader, Alfredo Flores, a Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering student from Ibarra, Ecuador. “This information will be displayed in an app for smartphones, tablets and computers.” His teammates were classmates Vinal Kumar Raju and Bhargava Valmiki, both of India.
The Fairfield students who took part in the competition were enrolled in a new course, ‘ECE508 Engineering Entrepreneurship,’ taught by Mike Roer and Douglas Lyon, Ph.D., professor of computer engineering, who both served as advisors.
Each student team in the contest prepared a business plan for an entrepreneurial venture – some ideas were for personal retail and service businesses while others were for technology startups. Student participants defended their business plans before a panel of entrepreneurs and investors. After each presentation, the judges grilled students to test their knowledge of the product or service, the market, the competition, the capital required to launch the business, legal and tax issues that may impact the plan, and other matters.
The interface between entrepreneurship and engineering development is a big focus at Fairfield. Many engineering students have taken part on successful teams competing in Fairfield University’s four-year-old student Business Plan Competition, for instance. In addition, the School of Engineering hosts many public events for entrepreneurs and innovators, most notably with the Inventors Association of Connecticut.
Image: (L-R) ‘Engineering Entrepreneurship’ Instructor Mike Roer with students/ Connecticut Business Plan Competition participants Alfredo Flores, Sai Krishna Vennam, Vinal Kumar Raju and Bhargava Valmiki.