Thursday October 23, 2014

'Next Great Idea' Competition Down to Final Four

Excitement builds as contest enters stretch drive

    Bookbrawl.com, Music Instrument Covers, Ontario Soap Company and Party & Play Cafe have been selected as the four finalists for the 2014 Next Great Idea Oswego County Business Plan Competition, according to Austin Wheelock, chair of the NGI steering committee.

    On Nov. 13, each finalist will give a 20-minute presentation on his or her business plan in person to a panel of judges. Following the presentation, a luncheon and awards ceremony announcing the winner will be held at The Lake Ontario Event and Conference Center, 26 E. First St., Oswego.

    The keynote speaker will be Pam Caraccioli, deputy to the president for external partnerships and economic development at SUNY Oswego.

    "This year's finalists have worked extremely hard to position themselves to win $25,000 toward developing their business ventures here in Oswego County," Wheelock said.

    • Finalist Bookbrawl.com and the business team led by Austin Rudd is an online platform headquartered in Oswego County that allows students to create their own textbook marketplaces on campuses to reduce the cost of books and supplies.


    • Based on his experience in the music industry, finalist Matthew Vacanti has identified an opportunity to develop a colorful and protective covering for string instruments like violins, violas and cellos. The business would be called Music Instrument Covers.

    • Finalist Ontario Soap Company and owner Heather Shambo will create luxury soaps and body care products using locally sourced ingredients from Oswego County. High-quality local products used in the soap production such as chocolate, coffee beans and wine will be a focus of the business's marketing efforts.

    • Identifying a need for a quality children's play outlet in the Oswego area was the business opportunity catalyst for finalist Karen Crisafulli. She proposed an event and play location called Party and Play Cafe that would focus on children's entertainment but would also be adult friendly.

    This year's Next Great Idea competition received 19 innovative ideas ranging from advanced manufacturing to health care to Internet-based platforms and tourism. These ideas were all from local and regional entrepreneurs who would like to develop or expand their business in Oswego County.

    The $25,000 prize was raised in partnership with private banks, local companies, and public and private institutions that see the importance in making an investment in Oswego County's economic future.

    The Next Great Idea website — www.oswegocounty.org/NGI — includes an overview of the event, a competition timeline, guidelines and details on the $25,000 prize, sponsors, partners and contact information. In addition, the $25,000 can potentially be leveraged to borrow up to $250,000 in partnership with local banks, the Oswego County Industrial Development Agency, the cities of Oswego and Fulton community development offices, the U.S. Small Business Administration, New York Business Development Corp., and other economic development agencies.

    For more information, visit the website or email ngi@oswegocounty.org.