After a successful 2017 debut, SUNY Oswego’s Launch It student startup competition will reward outstanding ideas and plans in a competition spanning September to early November.

The competition awards $1,000 to the winning team. The second-place team will earn $600, while the third-place squad will take home $400.

SUNY Oswego's Enactus chapter, a student group embracing entrepreneurship through community service, once again leads organization of the competition, which happens in three stages.

The competition officially kicks off with the Launch It Pitch event at 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, in Sheldon Hall ballroom. At this event, students receive one minute to present their startup ideas or pitch their skills for potential inclusion by entrepreneurs looking for team members. A networking session after the pitches allows students to build their teams.

Jeff Knauss -- a 2007 Oswego alumnus who co-founded digital marketing agency Digital Hyve -- will serve as keynote speaker for the pitch event. Knauss will speak from experience, as the startup he and fellow Oswego graduate Jacob Tanner founded has earned such honors as fifth-fastest growing marketing and advertising firm and 52nd fastest-growing company in the U.S. by Inc. in 2018; plus 2017 recognition as CenterState CEO Business of the Year, SBA’s Small Business Excellence Award and among Business Journal News Network Best Places to Work.

Alumni mentoring

In the next round, student teams will receive mentoring advice from SUNY Oswego alumni who can lend their own business and leadership experience to aspiring entrepreneurs. The mentoring phase starts at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, in Rich Hall.

“One of the remarkable things about this competition is the successful Oswego alumni who generously donate their time, experience and expertise to help our students and teams,” said Richard Skolnik, dean of Oswego’s School of Business. “Their presence and guidance are a great example of learning beyond the classroom that benefits students no matter where they place in the competition.”

The Launch It Final -- 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2, in the Marano Campus Center auditorium, Room 132 -- will see the teams vie for victory by pitching their business plans and answering questions from a panel of expert judges.

Last year’s winning team of Samantha Boyle and Madison St. Gelais pitched an app called Bunk, which would allow students looking for off-campus housing to connect with other students and verified landlords, among other services. The 2017 competition saw ideas spanning a wide range of products and services, many aimed at the student market.

Skolnik credits Oswego students with creation and ongoing stewardship of the competition. The idea originated with Jordan Shutts and Eli VanOrman, now past Enactus presidents who have since graduated from SUNY Oswego. Student leadership this year includes project manager Daniel Bergin and Isaac Mathews, president of Enactus.

Additional sponsors include SUNY Oswego’s School of Business, Office of Business and Community Relations, and the Alumni and Development Division.

Launch It can also serve as a springboard to prepare students for the New York Business Plan Competition. The Central New York regional competition is Friday, March 29, at Syracuse University with the state finals Friday, April 26, at Sage College

For more information or for students planning to register for Launch It, visit