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Spring 2021 Virtual Capstone Competition

Spring 2021 Virtual Capstone Competition

For the third semester in a row since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management hosted a virtual “capstone competition,” the final component of the three-credit Strategic and Entrepreneurial Management course taken by all undergraduate Whitman seniors. On May 7, 2021, 36 student teams comprised of four to five students, each guided by their  professor who served as an  advisor, pitched an original business plan to a panel of judges. The following day, five finalist teams competed for the top places in the competition. 

Special recognition goes to all ‘Capstoners’ and their professors, including Professors Tamara Demeree, John Torrens, Alexandra Kostakis and Ken Walsleben for a job well done this past semester guiding the teams.

The main event was held on Friday May 7, 2021, which included a series of recorded elevator pitches. From this group, 5 finalists were chosen. The finalists squared off on Saturday May 8, 2021.  

The results from the final round are as follows:

In first place, day.i team members Devon Canora ’21 (Whitman-Marketing Management), Bruno Gonzalez Hauger ’21(Whitman/Newhouse-EEE/Advertising), Andrea Lan ’22 (Whitman-Finance), Camryn Lawyea ’20 (Whitman-Retail Management/Supply Chain Management/EEE) and Patrick Penfield ’21 (Whitman-Finance) under the guidance of faculty advisor Walsleben, created a mobile application that uses artificial intelligence (machine learning) to automate your scheduling. day.i was created for tasks that do not need strict times, day.i will schedule them for you in the best times possible. It learns as you use it to best suit your work-life balance preferences. It’s designed to improve your productivity and your mental health. day.i will be sold to colleges and high schools initially with the goal of increasing student performance and student retention. 

day.i team member Bruno Gonzalez Hauger shared that this “capstone experience was a fantastic one, and that’s all because of my team. We all worked hard, we were all open minded and receptive of each-others feedback, and we all had a common goal—to win. This really felt like the dream team to me. I think anyone would have been lucky to have just one of these individuals on their team—I happened to have four of them.”

The second-place team, under the direction of Professor Tamara Demeree created Leaf It, fully compostable take-out packaging that incorporates a dehumidifying agent to maintain the quality of the food throughout the transportation process. Team members included Austin Grace ’21 (Whitman/Arts & Sciences-Finance/Economics), Max Hubley ’21  (Whitman/ iSchool-Accounting/IMT), Eliza Lunt ’21  (Whitman/ Arts & Sciences- Retail Management/Supply Chain Management/ESP), Grant Murphy ’21  (Whitman-Marketing Management/Real Estate) and Jack Tillotso ’21  (Whitman-Management).

The third-place team, American Oral Group (AOG) was advised by Professor Walsleben and included team members Daniel Adediran ’21  (Whitman-Finance), Michael Bright ’22 (Whitman-Supply Chain Management), Rachel Li ’21  (Whitman/Arts & Science-Accounting/Psychology), Ben Salley ’21 (Whitman-Finance/Real Estate), Garrett Szczucki ’21 (Whitman/ iSchool/Marketing Management/IMT). AOG has created a personalized dental mouth guard impregnated with minerals and vitamins intended to protect teeth and protect enamel.  Additionally, they market a spray (on a subscription basis) to renew the mouth guard’s efficacy.

In addition to the top three finalists, two teams received honorable mentions. 

Honorable mention went to Acid4Earth team members Nick Conforti ’21 (Whitman-Accounting/Finance), Julia Danan ’21 (Whitman-Supply Chain Management), Hunter Gorick ’23 (Whitman-Marketing Management), Hayden Gross ’21 (Whitman- Finance) and Ally Kindler ’21 (Whitman/Maxwell-Retail Management/EEE/ESP), led by Professor Walsleben, invented a new, sustainable way to make Lactic Acid (used in many cosmetics and consumer products).  Using spent coffee grounds, they can make this commodity product using eco-sensitive methods.

Sports Entertainment Technologies (SET) also received an honorable mention. The team, under the advisement of Professor Walsleben, has created a virtual augmented-reality tail gating application for live sporting events.  Fans who are not attending an event live, will now be able to participate in the event as if they were there. Team members included Matthew Buell ’21 (Whitman-Retail Management/Supply Chain Management), Olivia Conte ’21 (Whitman/Newhouse/Arts & Sciences-Marketing Management/Broadcast Journalism/Spanish/Literature and Culture), Matthew Frisch ’20 (Whitman-Finance/EEE/Real Estate), Sean O’Brien ’22 (Whitman-Finance) and Valerie Pianiri ’21 (Whitman/Newhouse-Finance/Public Relations).

Gonzalez Hauger said that “I think the fact I was competing against my peers was what made this one feel so special.” Despite the current COVID-19 restrictions for the competing students and their faculty advisors, the capstone competition continued to prepare the seniors for their future in today’s entrepreneurial world. 

“Capstone makes you take a majority of what you have learned here at Whitman and actually apply it. It’s the culmination of what you can create with the knowledge base you have built in your four years,” says Gonzalez Hauger. “Anyone can memorize terms or formulas and take a test, but a lot of the time that stuff is forgotten as fast as it is learned. Actually, applying what you have learned to create something special, that’s what really teaches you.  That’s what gives you a deeper understanding of business concepts and makes them stick.

Learn more about past capstone winners and their topics.

Dawn McWilliams
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