A group of five Binghamton University graduates beat over a dozen teams in a business plan competition last week with their company CommuniKey. The prize money will go toward advertising and further development of the company.
The contest, a fourth annual hosted by the Binghamton Local Development Corporation and Broome Community College Representatives, attracts students and local budding entrepreneurs from all over Broome County. This year’s winners graduated from Binghamton University last year and stayed in the area to grow their business.
CommuniKey is a service company that connects students at the University with local businesses by offering a discount card. Area businesses sign on with CommuniKey and students purchase membership cards from the company in order to receive special deals from the local shops. The company already has 40 businesses signed on in the Binghamton University area and CommuniKey is looking to expand to other campuses. On the company’s website (here), the program is touted as “A membership program of the students, by the students and for the students.”
The company will receive $5,000 cash for investment, $5,000 advertising package from the Press and Sun Bulletin, three hours of accounting consultation from firm Piaker and Lyons, and a one-year membership to the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce.
CommuniKey entrepreneur Adam Sabol is looking forward to the positive impacts the awards will have on the company. “Participating in the BLDC/EAP Business Plan Competition was an extremely valuable learning experience for us as a company,” said Sabol. “[It] will allow us to further finance our expansion, increase the functionality of our membership cards, upgrade portions of our website and expand our avenues of promotion,” Sabol added.
CommuniKey came out on top following a fierce competition with a field of 15. All teams were required to complete the Entrepreneur Assistance Program tutorial based at Broome County Community College prior to competing. The 15 teams were narrowed down to ten in the secondary round, and then two finalists were left remaining. Other business plans included social networking platforms, an environmentally-friendly paving company, popcorn shop and brewery.
Chet Schultz, Vice President of Commercial Business Banking for First Niagara Bank, was one of the five judges stemming from local profit and nonprofit organizations. “Each of the contestants presented plans that were well-researched and demonstrated a commitment to developing a small business in the City of Binghamton,” Schultz said. “As a judge, it was a pleasure to participate in this annual BLDC-EAP competition. I wish CommuniKey success with their exciting new Binghamton business.”
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Maxwell is the Coordinator of Digital Engagement for The State University of New York.