UB students Win Big at Connecticut Business Plan Competition

exterior of The Bauer Hall Innovation Center

Above: The Bauer Hall Innovation Center, which fosters innovation and entrepreneurship by providing a professional and high-tech atmosphere to both students and the community.

A group of University of Bridgeport (UB) student entrepreneurs have won big at the 23rd Annual Connecticut Business Plan Competition, which was held on April 24, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s competition was held online and students pitched their business ideas to the judges through Zoom meetings.

Peter Clayton, a computer science master’s student, won first and second place in the Personal Business Category for his project titled, “Bartenders Academy.” The win came with a prize of $1,000 for first place and $500 for second place. Clayton currently owns the Bartenders Academy and in his business plan, he presented the idea to take his business online to teach bartenders remotely. “My goal before graduation is to fully transition my business into a technology company.” 

Clayton attributed his success to all the support and mentorship he has received at UB. In his business plan, he was mentored by Pete Divone and advised by Elena Cahill, director of the Ernest C. Trefz School of Business and UB’s Student Entrepreneur Center (UBSEC). “I was so excited and happy for him. He has been working diligently on his business. He has been coming every Friday for an entire year to learn at the UBSEC.” 

For Clayton, the UBSEC has been an invaluable resource. He says that the UBSEC has been a defining aspect of his tenure as a student at UB. He has been able to leverage his studies to succeed in his business and future ventures. 

Clayton was excited to hear that other UB students also won at the competition. “It was exciting to see other UB students on the winning list, too. It did not feel that I was there by myself. I was part of a team.”

Mohamed Mohamed, a computer science doctoral student, also won second place at this year’s competition in the Venture Enterprise Category. Mohamed’s project was “Safe Handle,” an innovative solution to protect the users from viruses when they are in the store or at the airport. His idea is to cover the handles of shopping or airport carts with a disposable and recyclable cover. Mohamed was advised by Khaled Elleithy, interim dean, College of Engineering, Business and Education. “This idea came to my head days before the application deadline. I spoke to Dr. Elleithy and then I did the application.” 

Elleithy said that Mohamed is a very energetic person and always comes up with good ideas. “I was very happy for him. He is a very hard worker. When he gets an idea, he works hard to make it work.” Mohamed said that it felt good to win because his idea can help people. He received a $500 prize award for winning second place in the competition. 

Moizuddin (Moiz) Syed, a technology management doctoral student, also won third place in the Consumer Product Category with his project titled, “MEP Progress Tracking Drone.” His business plan is to develop a prototype of an autonomous drone that will help track progress of a construction job site, not limited to external civil progress but also internal building aspects such as mechanical, plumbing, electrical and fire protection services. Syed has been working with the UBSEC and the Technology Management Department for the past year and a half and their guidance and help has been monumental in putting the plan together. 

Syed’s advisor was Elif Kongar, professor of technology management. She was thrilled to see his name among the award winners even though she was not surprised. “Moiz graduated from UB’S Mechanical Engineering master’s degree program. Upon graduation, he started working as a Mechanical Project Engineer. During his education and his industry experience that followed, he has accumulated a wealth of knowledge and experience in buildings, infrastructure and industrial sectors.” Syed is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. in Technology Management program where he is investigating the role of drones and image processing technologies in the construction industry. 

Syed was surprised to hear that he received an award at the competition. “Honestly I did not expect to be in the top five categories, especially being this is a statewide competition.” He said that he felt proud and thanked his professors for their immense help and support. Syed received a $300 prize award for winning the third place in the competition.

The Connecticut Business Plan Competition is held to promote innovation and entrepreneurship. The competition invites teams of student-entrepreneurs from Connecticut universities to submit a business plan or business model for an entrepreneurial venture and compete for prize money by defending their plans before a panel of judges.

The UBSEC at the Ernest C. Trefz School of Business is open to all matriculated University of Bridgeport students and aims to accelerate the successful development of start-ups. The mission of the Center is to produce successful businesses by providing student entrepreneurs with an array of targeted resources and services.