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Iona College Student Entrepreneurs Win at Mid-Hudson Regional Business Plan Competition, Advancing to NYS Finals

Giving Smiles Logo Amanda McCormack ’19, ’20MBA won for Giving Smiles, a technology platform to provide impoverished children with gifts.

New Rochelle, N.Y. – On April 17, five student entrepreneur teams from Iona College, including undergraduate and graduate students, competed in the Mid-Hudson Regional Business Plan Competition alongside 33 teams from colleges and universities in the Greater Hudson Valley region. Three Iona teams won first place in three out of six tracks, including Agricultural Technology & Food, Energy & Environment, and Technology & Entertainment.

The three winning teams were: Giving Smiles, a technology platform to provide impoverished children with gifts, founded by Amanda McCormack ’19, ’20MBA; EVITAL, an eco-friendly clothing hanger for major retailers, founded by Raymond Carapella ’20 and Michaela Ceci (Marist); and NightCap, a beverage pouring device to monitor pouring levels for consistency and safety, founded by Christina Bryde  ’20MBA.

Evital logo Raymond Carapella ’20 and Michaela Ceci (Marist) won for EVITAL, an eco-friendly clothing hanger for major retailers

“We are so proud of the students' commitment to building their mindset and mission through this experience. Our mentors coached teams at every stage, which is a great contribution from faculty, alumni, and professionals from the Iona community,” said Danny Potocki ’06, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, who led the program at Iona College’s Hynes Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation.

Students demonstrated excellence in building and launching ideas that solve a problem in the world and pitching their businesses to a panel of expert judges selected from corporate, nonprofit, investment, and government entities across the Greater Hudson Valley region. The three teams to place at the top of the competition will compete in the New York State Business Plan Competition on May 1, being held virtually with judges and mentors.

 “The mentors at Hynes Institute pushed and supported us through the entire process of developing an idea we believe in. The competition gave us the opportunity to work on our business model. We are excited to share our idea with the world and hope it lights a spark in others as it does for us,” said Carapella and Ceci, founders of EVITAL.

In 2017, the Hynes Institute started with a vision to bring new learning opportunities to Iona College by helping students develop an entrepreneurial mindset. Almost three years later, this vision is visibly alive at the intersection of the state-of-the art learning spaces, the students who engage in those spaces, and the programs that support the students in those spaces. With an interdisciplinary undergraduate and graduate program in entrepreneurship and innovation, Iona has emerged as a leader in the region. In doing so, the Hynes Institute continues to build a community of support for its students by bringing together businesses, industry professionals, and other stakeholders with deep and diversified expertise and experience.

NightCap Logo Christina Bryde  ’20MBA won for NightCap , a beverage pouring device to monitor pouring levels for consistency and safety.

Christoph Winkler, Ph.D., endowed professor and founding program director of the Hynes Institute emphasized that “our students are at the center of everything we do. They are our most valuable asset as we continue to build and grow our program not only for our students, but also with our students. I am excited for our students who are competing in the New York State Business Plan Competition and I wish them all the best as they represent Iona College and the entrepreneurial spirit of all of our students."

“The Hynes Institute has opened up doors to so many great opportunities– it’s a phenomenal community of mentors and students. I feel fortunate that the Hynes Institute linked me with amazing mentors who teach me something new every session and truly inspire me to be at my best. I am thrilled to compete in the state finals with two other impressive Iona students and I look forward to launching my business,” said Bryde, founder of NightCap.

The Hynes Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation was established in 2017 thanks to the generosity and record setting $15 million gift to Iona College from James ’69, ’01H and Anne Marie Hynes. The Hynes Institute is an emerging program that aims to prepare the next generation of entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders to move the world. It ensures that students develop the knowledge, skills and experience required to create, innovate and lead in a global economy.

Founded in 1940, Iona College is a master's-granting private, Catholic, coeducational institution of learning in the tradition of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers. Iona's 45-acre campus is just 20 miles north of Midtown Manhattan. With a total enrollment of nearly 4,000 students and an alumni base of over 45,000 around the world, Iona is a diverse community of learners and scholars dedicated to academic excellence and the values of justice, peace and service. Iona is highly accredited, offering undergraduate degrees in liberal arts, science, and business administration, as well as Master of Arts, Master of Science and Master of Business Administration degrees and numerous advanced certificate programs. Iona's LaPenta School of Business is accredited by AACSB International, a prestigious recognition awarded to just five percent of business schools worldwide. The Princeton Review recognized Iona's on-campus MBA program as a "Best Business School for 2020." Iona College also recently launched a new fully online MBA program for even greater flexibility.