Three Moore alumni have won prizes to further development of their small businesses in the first-ever Emerging Entrepreneurs' Business Plan Competition for graduates.
The competition, sponsored by Your Part-Time Controller LLC, was the culmination of a pilot program in collaboration with the Wharton Small Business Development Center. Jurors for the competition included Jennifer Alleva, managing partner of Your Part-Time Controller; Brook Lenfest, president and CEO of NetCarrier and founder of the Brook J. Lenfest Foundation; Debra Stack '92, president of Stack Creative; and Betsy Cook, designer and owner of National Picnic.
Alleva said all of those presenting were extremely creative.
"It really came down to the business plan they presented and the viability of the business over time," said Alleva. "But I loved all of them." She said the jurors also looked for creativity and what they business owners have accomplished so far.
Marissa Cianciulli '12, founder of Super Signs, one of the only woman-owned sign-making companies in Philadelphia, won the top prize of $3,000. Cianciulli started her business two years ago, and is a one-woman shop.
"I'm so grateful," Cianciulli said. "I'm going to hire someone with the grant money. I love what I do so much."
Sherita Cuffee '07, who owns the women's wear brand company Visçera, won the second-place prize of $2,000.
"The next milestone for me is to open the atelier for Visçera," she said, and she plans to work toward that through a series of pop-up bridal shops. "I am excited because this check will be more than 60 percent of the cost of my pop-up shop," she said.
The third-place prize of $1,000 was awarded to Victoria Wright '12, who is launching the made-to-measure collection Victoria Wright for the professional woman this year. She plans to use the money to complete her website.
"I want to get it into a really good place so it looks amazing for the launch," she said.
Ten select alumni participated in the series of weekly workshops last fall under the guidance of a Wharton MBA and entrepreneur, and received valuable peer-to-peer feedback from business owners. They learned to craft a mission statement, draft sales projections, develop financial data and operation plans, and create an exit strategy. The project was developed with the support of Moore College of Art & Design’s entrepreneurship initiative ROI (Resources. Opportunities. Inspiration.) Other participants included Alexandra Schoenstadt ’14 of Schoenfilms, Stephanie Price ’13 of NUMiNOUSmag, Alana Oates '10 of Llani Shoes, Katie O’Hara MFA ’12 of Katie O’Hara Design LLC, Lauren Ramer ’16 of Freakhead (Lauren Ramer Illustration), Peaches (Alexis) Piechnik ’13 of Peach Pie Design, and Sarah Squadrito ’11 of Squidynamite.
"It was really helpful," Cianciulli said. "It gave me structure for my business, it gave me goals, and it gave me a realization of how people have to get business funding to start a business."
"When we were doing the collaboration, it was two things I love, business and Moore together, so it was a great experience," Cuffee said.
Wright said learning the financials at Wharton SBDC workshops and how to structure a business plan made the program worth it.
"It was really challenging for me as kind of a creative mind to put those thoughts and images in my head into a concrete plan," she said. "It was good to have the class to show me how to do that."