Mercy College Hosts 4th Annual Student Entrepreneurship Conference and Business Plan Competition

Students and entrepreneurs at conference

The event featured a panel headed by local leading entrepreneurs, a keynote speaker, the final round of the student business plan competition and an Entrepreneur EXPO for all attendees to network and meet with exhibitors from Mercy’s Bronx Incubation Center.

On April 13, 2023, Mercy College hosted its 4th Annual Student-Preneur Conference / Business Plan Competition, which promoted entrepreneurship and celebrated the growing number of student entrepreneurs at Mercy. Organized by the School of Business and sponsored by the Beba Innovation & Entrepreneurship Foundation, the event drew more than 150 attendees who participated in person at the Dobbs Ferry campus and virtually from viewing parties at the Bronx and Manhattan campuses. Students from Lincoln High School in Yonkers, New York, Francis Lewis High School in Queens, New York and Valley Central High School in Montgomery, New York also participated. 

“Participation from a combination of high-energy, prestigious guest speakers, Mercy students and local high school students made this year’s Mercy College Student-Preneur Conference the best one yet,” said Lloyd Gibson, dean of Mercy College’s School of Business. “I’m confident that the students who attended the conference are even more prepared to succeed in their future endeavors.”  

The conference featured a keynote speaker, Mercy College alumna Cheryl Lynn Brannan, M.S. ’02 founder and CEO of Sister to Sister International, Inc, a Mercy Entrepreneurial Alliance Panel headed by Dr. Maria Trusa, CEO of Formé Medical Center and Urgent Care, Korhan Beba and Umran Beba, H.D. 22, Founders of the Beba Innovation & Entrepreneurship Foundation, and leading entrepreneurs from 7 ACE Logistics Company, 17 Entertainment and Salem & Salem Consulting.  

“It is great to see the conference grow year after year, and to see Mercy students working in close teams to identify creative entrepreneurial solutions to real-world problems,” said Umran Beba. “I am happy to support programs like the Student-Preneur Conference so that students can develop, even beyond the education they are getting, to become future business leaders that give back to their communities.” 

“Education is a bridge to success, and Mercy College is one of those bridges, leading the charge in bettering the lives of students from all backgrounds,” said Brannan. during her keynote. “Through programs like the Student-Preneur Conference, and the College’s tremendous business community connections, Mercy is investing in its students by giving them the opportunities they need to succeed.” 

During the final round of the Business Plan Competition, five teams of 12 students presented their business ideas to a panel of judges, which included last year’s winner Tereva Bundy ’21, who has since successfully launched her business, Unique Online Reading Tutor providing reading instruction to children struggling in reading. The finalists were: Jadon Yara ’25 with BLOUXSPACE, a business idea for a video production company within the fashion and music industries; Keiry Gomez ’23, Nadine Ntonga ’23, Odette Urena ’23 and Ricky Lazaro ’23 with Gobelete Creátif, a business idea for a space where people can gather and engage in creative expression in a relaxed setting; Robbie Guglielmo ’23 and Zach Higgins ’23 with Porta-Plate, a business idea for an on-the-go plate for enjoying meals in the car; Emily Mozdziak ’24, Sarah Shields ’23 and Kaitlyn Kreider ’23 with TRAQ, a business idea for jewelry with continuous tracking location and Joshua Thompson ’24 and Ethan Farquharson ’24 with Range, a business idea for a Virtual Reality game company that allows users to build the games and worlds they want for other users to play and explore. 

After much deliberation, the judges declared the winners. Third place went to Yara with BLOUXSPACE and Guglielmo and Higgins came in second with Porta-Plate. First place went to Mozdziak, Shields and Kreider, who received a $1,500 prize for pitching their TRAQ jewelry business. Their TRAQ ring, which they pitched as wearable and reliable technology for women, includes a discreet tracking device that can also alert help with the push of a button.   

“This has been a great experience for all of us and each other. This is something we are all passionate about. There is a great need for it, and we are lucky enough for the opportunity to work on an issue of this magnitude. We hope one day everyone has a track ring,” the winning team, Mozdziak, Shields and Kreider, said excitedly. 

A total of 27 students and 17 student teams from across Mercy entered the Business Plan Competition. School of Business faculty provided workshops and mentorship to help students prepare for the competition. Mercy’s student-run chapter of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization, which is known as the CEO Club, also supported the student entrepreneurs throughout the process. 

“I learned that as a marketing major, there are many opportunities for me after graduation, including entrepreneurship, and that Mercy can support my goals,” said Denisa Ademaj ’23, Mercy College graduate student and president of Mercy’s CEO Club.  Helping to plan the conference has inspired Ademaj to pursue entrepreneurship after graduation. 

The Student-Preneur Conference is just one of many entrepreneurship opportunities available at Mercy. The Mercy Business Incubation Center continues to offer students the opportunity to work with growing businesses, and the student-run CEO Club continues to support students in pursuing their dreams of entrepreneurship. 

Conference sponsors and organizers
From left to right: Sofia Cialicu, associate director of business operations at Mercy College; Valerie Mason Cunningham, H.D. ’20, Mercy College Board Trustee; Lloyd Gibson, dean of the Mercy College School of Business; Cheryl Lynn Brannan, M.S. ’02, Founder/CEO of Sister to Sister International Inc. and Student-Preneur conference keynote speaker; Robert Bohn, director of entrepreneurship for Mercy College; Korhan Beba, Founder of the Beba Foundation and Mercy College Student-Preneur Conference Sponsor
Conference winners
Winners of the Mercy College 4th Annual Student-Preneur Conference / Business Plan Competition: Emily Mozdziak ’24, Sarah Shields ’23 and Kaitlyn Kreider ’23
CNR alumna speaker
College of New Rochelle alumna Rose Salem-Tilford CNR SNS '93 speaking to student participants