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Zarb Student Entrepreneurs Shine in Capital One Challenge

A team of two undergraduate students from the Frank G. Zarb School of Business took first place today in the Capital One Campus Entrepreneurship Challenge at Hofstra University, winning up to $3000 in seed capital for their fledgling juice business, YoHealf!.

Four Zarb teams participated in the competition, in which mentors from Capital One help college students develop and implement ideas for small business ventures.  The teams then present their business plans detailing costs, risks, operational schedules, distribution channels and target markets before a panel of judges.  Previous participants in the entrepreneurship challenge have gone on to win regional, state, and national competitions.

Jomo Lennon and Line-Ariel Bretous impressed judges with their plan for their juice business, Yo Healf!.
Jomo Lennon and Line-Ariel Bretous impressed judges with their business plan.

Line-Ariel Bretous, a junior finance major and an international student from Haiti, and Jomo Lennon, a junior entrepreneurship major from Freeport, NY, developed a nutrient-rich energy drink based on Lennon’s family recipes that they say is a healthier, tastier, and less expensive alternative to other commercially sold drinks.

“This is amazing!” said Bretous of the win. “We worked really hard to perfect the product and our pitch, and it’s really about something that will help people be healthy.”   She and Lennon hope to use the seed money to introduce the drink in the Hofstra Student Center as well as in loal farmer’s markets before pursuing wider distribution.

The duo ranked first on the strength of their originality, presentation skills, and overall analysis of the costs and risks involved in selling their product in an already-saturated energy drink market, said Richard Schnapper, national sales performance executive at Capital One, who served as a judge.  He noted that ideas from young adults, particularly in the the 18-23 age group, are the new driving force for industry in the next five to ten years.

Students teams,mentors, Capital One executives, and Zarb faculty from the 2013 entrepreneural challenge.
Student teams, Capital One mentors and executives, and Zarb administrators and faculty from the 2013 entrepreneurial challenge.

Another student-run business, Youthful Companions, came in a close second with an enterprise designed to connect seniors in retirement communities with high-school and college volunteers in interactive social activities.   In addition, marketing company Lounge Media is producing customized beach towels that will advertise small businesses near Central Park, while urban apparel company NextGen sells custom designed T-shirts with original inspirational quotes.

All four teams were commended for their entrepreneurial spirit and will receive some share of seed money as they continue to develop and market their products during the spring 2014 semester.    “Programs like this give students a chance to go beyond the standard textbook education,” said Associate Professor Richard Hayes, who helped conceive the idea for the challenge six years ago.   “This is our lab.  Biology students cut open frogs in their lab. In ours, we run businesses, and we can really see how our students have been able to develop the core professional skills they need to be successful in the future.”



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