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RIT Students Ready to Square Off in Statewide Business Plan Competition

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Rochester: RIT Students Ready to Square Off in Statewide Business Plan Competition
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Three Rochester Institute of Technology student teams will battle it out in Albany for a chance to win up to $500,000. The students are competing in a statewide business plan competition.

Jourdan Darling turned his love for water sports into a business. He’s the founder and CEO of Precision Watercraft Enterprises. He's developed a pair of stand-up jet skis that are green and economical.

“My father introduced me to stand-up jet skis about seven years ago. Since then, I've been riding them throughout the east coast. Being a part of the industry, I was able to validate the need for this product," said Darling.

This isn't his first time starting a business. Darling once sold watercrafts out of his mom’s garage.

In his four years at the Rochester Institute of Technology, he’s gained valuable experience that has helped to turn his business into a viable company.

Darling and his operation manager, Michael Buffin, have a chance to really get their business off the ground. They're competing against 10 teams from across the state in the New York Business Plan Competition Finals for a chance to win $100,000.

"It's definitely a big change going from making presentations in a class to going to presenting for $100,000. This money will take our concept to the next level. "

The prize money will make a world of difference for industrial design graduate student Brendan Gordon. Gordon is working to produce and sell soap. It’s an idea that came to him while working in disaster zones as an AmeriCorps volunteer.

"When I was in Haiti, one of the things that kept happening was that soap bars were going missing from where I was living. I began to notice how people cared about soap. A bar of soap was a quarter of what someone was making a day,” said Gordon.

He plans to sell his Imagine Soap at below market price.

“What we're actually looking to do is go into local communities and find out what their waste streams are, and in this case we've already identified one and we will be teaching people in these communities how to make soap. They'll be making soap from this waste stream, which will cut the costs by 40 percent,” he continued.

While Gordon is working on social change, his classmate Jared Mistretta has developed a network that will help deployed soldiers on the battle field.

“We’re working on a data protocol called the 'data must flow' and we hope it will replace the current internet protocol rate now. To deliver the sort of service that we would like our 21st century war fighter to have, like Google Maps, is something we take for granted, but it’s something the military greatly desires. They've spent the last 15 years and $20 billion in pursuit of this problem and haven’t found a solution."

Tyger Industries was an idea Mistretta came up with idea about six years ago. He said it was the reason he went back to school.

“This is culmination of a lot of work and validation to be at the stage right now.“

Since 2010, more than 570 student teams from almost 60 of New York’s colleges and universities have pitched their ideas and ventures at the NYBPC. At the end of the 2013 competition, more than $800,000 in cash and in-kind prizes were awarded to student entrepreneurs in New York.

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