By Nicole Ferrito
An electric longboard, an innovative social network platform and a South Asian-style restaurant were the top three ideas presented by students during the final round of the annual Mayo Business Plan Competition on Wednesday, April 8, in the College’s Library Auditorium.
Tikka Roll, a campus restaurant which would feature a combination of South Asian, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, was envisioned by senior finance major Mekah Aswani, senior psychology major Pauleena Pal and senior finance major Shinal Parikh. The team took first place in the competition, receiving a $22,000 reward toward their plan.
The judges had “passion” for their idea, Parikh said. The way in which the team engaged the audience in their plan also set them apart from the other competitors, according to Parikh.
Their idea was inspired by a South Asian on-the-go, take-out style restaurant at Rutgers University called Kati Roll. The menu at Tikka Roll would involve a system, which is not offered at Rutgers.
Their vision is to offer “ethnocentric” dining on campus and to “foster a sense of community at TCNJ.” After talking to some of the architects of Campus Town, the team detailed a possible location and floor plan for Tikka Roll.
The students consulted Lorraine Allen, Regional Director at the Small Business Development Center at the College, for guidance and advising throughout their planning.
Aswani and her mother wanted to open up a restaurant last year, she explained. Although Aswani, Pal and Parikh will be graduating this May, they plan to stay local and hope to carry through their Tikka Roll dining plan.
One of the most challenging parts of the competition was finding time to meet, according to Pal.
“We’re all friends. It’s challenging figuring out how to set a line between friendship and being ‘business partners,’” Aswani said.
The Tikka Roll team presented thorough research on their competitors as well as extensive customer loyalty programs. Proximity, affordability and timely service were terms the team used to describe some of the major strengths of their idea in order to make their business successful.
Thor Electric Longboards came in second place, pioneered by senior mechanical engineering major Jamie LeRoy, senior mechanical engineering major Ian Nolan and senior accounting major Jenna Wilson.
Thor’s product is an electronic pack that longboarders can purchase, assemble and attach to their boards. The pack, which comes with a controller for the longboarder to moderate the speed, allows the rider to safely travel up to 12 mph.
Following in third place was ProjectSpotter, developed by senior marketing major Patrick Kelly, senior marketing major Eric Sawyer, senior psychology major Jessica Gorham and senior finance major Matthew Hellenbrecht.
Hellenbrecht described their online professional platform as a “think-tank for students” and a website that would “facilitate collaboration among students.” ProjectSpotter provides an virtual space for students with an “.edu” address to share any projects or research they are working on with other college students from around the world.
The Mayo Business Plan Competition was established and sponsored by Professor Herber B. Mayo with support from Eric Szabo, class of 1997.
The panel of judges included Joseph Haddock, class of 1997 and director for Operational Risk Management at Annaly Management Company LLC; Mary Lauria, class of 1986 and vice president of Global Talent Management at Johnson & Johnson; Stacy Mattia, senior banker and SVP in Middle Marketing Banking for Chase Bank; Morayea Pindziak, class of 1999 and vice president of Marketing for The Agency Inside; and Eric Szabo, chief risk officer for Annaly Company, LLC.
Giving advice to future Mayo Business Plan participants, Aswani suggested tackling a personal interest rather than a project that’s merely lucrative in theory.
“Don’t do a business plan just to do it,” Aswani said. “Do something you’re passionate about.”