Seeds of success

Rylee Meelan, Staff Writer


It’s not everyday that you get to win money for creating ideas. For Becky Vennero, Emily Coope and Adam Westbrook, this was the case.

They are now working with Ryan Miller at Downtown Utica’s ThINCubator as they prepare to compete in the NYS Business Plan Regional Competition on April 1. What started out as just a class became much more for these three students.

In the fall semester of 2016, Professor Orzechowski offered an entrepreneurial class that had a similar setup as the TV show, Shark Tank. For the first few weeks of the class students interviewed each other to create teams based on who had similar business ideas and the skills that would help their team win the overall prize. The teams spent the rest of the semester developing their business ideas.

The final was a presentation in front of a board of investors from five local businesses. Each team had nine minutes to present their pitch that would highlight their company’s vision, plan, mock and financials. Not only was $2,500 on the line but their overall grade in the class. The winning team would earn the money and an A in the class.

The team of Vennero, Coope and Westbrook all found that their love and passion for fitness and health could develop into something bigger. They then created “SucSeed” and this idea allowed them to come in first place in the class, which meant they earned the money for start up capital for their business.

Their winning idea is a health and wellness application.

“SucSeed would serve as a service that can provide individuals with dietary restrictions and a meal output plan which would tell them exactly what to eat, how much of it to eat and when to eat it,” said Vennero. “In addition, there would be other various features unlocked by the user’s membership.”

SucSeed’s team never thought they would be where they are now at the beginning of the semester. As the semester went on, they saw more potential in this idea. They noticed that more people became interested when they pitched them the idea and were constantly telling them that they would be interested in using the app. The app could be extremely helpful for those struggling with dietary needs who don’t know what they should and can be eating.

The entrepreneurial class gave students the opportunity to be creative in coming up with their own business models and face investors to see how successful their ideas could be. Unlike many classroom scenes, the students were able to face real life situations, which will be helpful to students when they graduate.

“The interesting part about JLM 300 was that it was not a class at all, it was a full business experience,” Vennero stated. “We faced real-life decisions that companies have to face when developing a start-up. For example, upon winning we were approached by one of the judges, who works at a local media marketing company. She offered to buy our business plan from us. We took a meeting with her, heard her offer and politely declined. We wanted to carry it out longer and see where it’d take us.”

The team is hoping to qualify for the NYS Business Plan Competition at state level in Albany on April 28. Vennero has taken on SucSeed as her own independent study in order to devote more necessary time into getting the business on the market.