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Skidmore College

Fostering entrepreneurship and creativity at StartUp Skidmore

November 6, 2023
by James Helicke

Do you think you have an idea for the next great startup?  

This fall, StartUp Skidmore offered Skidmore students the opportunity to develop their business ideas, work and network with successful entrepreneurial alumni, receive feedback, and even make prototypes — all in an intense, one-day workshop.  

Thirty-two students participated in the session, which celebrated creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship at the College, on Sunday, Oct. 22. Together, students pitched ideas for 13 potential projects that ranged from biodegradable sportswear to social media apps. The program was open to students from all majors. 

Rob Downey ’86 P’27, CEO at Third Place Inc.; Neil McKinnon ’97, an agent owner at State Farm; and Max Walker ’13, founder of the tech consulting company Piton Labs, helped students develop their ideas.   

Arjun B K '25, Siyabonga Mabuza '25, Kartik Vaish '25 can be seen presenting their idea, Wearcast, in front of a crowd in Billie Tisch Center for Integrated Sciences.

An audience of more than 80 community members then offered their support and selected their favorites. Categories included most innovative, crowd favorite, most entrepreneurial, most likely to purchase, likely to improve the world, and even “best fail” — a reflection of a supportive environment that encouraged students to use their creativity and experiment.   

Our goal is to give students access to mentoring from our alumni, to make their entrepreneurial ideas better, and to help students understand the value of prototyping.
Cathy Hill, Teaching Professor of Management and Business

The event — a follow-up to an inaugural event in the series last year — took place in Skidmore’s Billie Tisch Center for Integrated Sciences and took advantage of its Schupf Family IdeaLab, where students could use the innovation center’s state-of-the-art equipment to support their projects. Teaching Professor of Management and Business Cathy Hill and Schupf Family IdeaLab Director Christopher Emdin were among the organizers. 

StartUp Skidmore is supported by the Sands Family Foundation Initiative for Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship at Skidmore, which encourages the expansion of entrepreneurship among all Skidmore students.   

The StartUp Skidmore program is an outgrowth of Skidmore’s marquee Freirich Entrepreneurship Competition, founded by Ken Freirich ’90, a trailblazer in conversations about entrepreneurship at the College. That program is scheduled to take place next semester and, like StartUp Skidmore, is open to students from all majors.

New IdeAs

Most Innovative 

Arjun B K '25, Siyabonga Mabuza '25, Kartik Vaish '25 

Crowd Favorite   

College Mart 
Isiah Karitanyi '26, Ryan Tevie '26, Nico Seguin '26, Sofia Salveson '26 

Most Entrepreneurial               

Tate Brandon '24, Cal Rogers '25, Blaine Moore '25 

Most likely to purchase 

Remodeling the Car Seat  
Murphy Alcantara '24, Leo Parra '24, Natasha Wozniak '25 

Best Fail    

Teen Talk 
Phoenix Goldenberg '25 

Existing Ideas 

Most Innovative 

Little Hooves, Big Dreams 
Diva Belo '25, Heba Salman '25 

Crowd Favorite   

Ur Space 
Avery Mathis '26, Kubair Bahl '25, Taha Bhatti '25 

Most likely to purchase            

Armada Clothing 
Milan Lombardo '24 

Likely to Improve World         

Muhammad Salim '27, Yash Manandhar '27 

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