SUNY Canton Students Develop Marketing Plans for 'Roopreneur' Entrepreneurial Challenge


College faculty members and the Canton College Foundation, Inc., fund $4,000 in scholarships for the annual competition.

SUNY Canton’s annual "Roopreneur" entrepreneurial challenge allowed students to test their business development skills in a real-world scenario.

Douglas Zeif, president and CEO of NEXT! Hospitality Advisors, challenged students to develop a marketing strategy for Echelon, a new restaurant in Ann Arbor, Mich. Zeif is a SUNY Canton graduate, Canton College Foundation donor and an adjunct instructor for the Management program.

Kelsey Beyer
Customer Satisfaction - Kelsey R. Beyer of Lowville was the sixth-place winner of SUNY Canton’s annual Roopreneur challenge. In her analysis of Echelon, a new high-end restaurant in Ann Arbor, Mich., she suggested the restaurant focus on establishing a clientele base and focusing directly on their needs.

"Entrepreneurship requires courage," Zeif said. "You also need the right idea and the right systems in place. Having solid management and expertise behind your ideas can make a successful business."

Zeif presented students with the new venture's business plan and location information. Echelon will be a large restaurant serving wood-fired food with two bars in a prime downtown location. Students provided strategies for a successful launch and the restaurant's continuing success. They suggested adding retail sales to engage customers and extend Echelon's brand, holding wedding receptions and special events in the building's significant location, and developing the proper channels to promote engagement with clientele.

Pierce Diamond
Entrepreneurial Approach - Pierce M. Diamond of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, earned second place in the Roopreneur Challenge. He said the challenge taught him the importance of adaptability, perseverance, work ethic and belief are all essential to any business's success.

"I'm impressed with the ingenuity and creativity of our students who crafted solid plans for Echelon," said SUNY Canton Professor Charles R. Fenner, Ph.D. "Their innovative ideas and strategic thinking are a testament to their boundless potential for business success."

Zeif, Fenner and the Canton College Foundation, Inc., provided $4,000 in scholarship funding to reward the students' efforts. Prizes ranged from $100 to $1,750. The faculty members announced the winners during a recent meeting with SUNY Canton President Zvi Szafran:

  • Meagan J. Hartsock, a Finance major from Schenectady, earned first place.
  • Pierce M. Diamond, a Management major from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, earned second place.
  • Verity J. Lewis, a Management major from Sandhurst, England, earned third place.
  • Nola Ranallo, an Agribusiness Management major from Tonawanda, earned fourth place.
  • Janirka Polanco, an Early Childhood Care and Management major from Brooklyn, earned fifth place.
  • Kelsey R. Beyer, a Management major from Lowville, earned sixth place.
  • Milena Miller, a Business Administration major from Staten Island, earned seventh place.
  • Jytia A. Wright, a Management major from Brooklyn, earned eighth place.
  • Ryan Glover, an Esports Management major from Hughson, Calif., earned ninth place.
  • Carolyn Fadel, a Management Major from Lewiston, earned tenth place.

"SUNY Canton places significant emphasis on entrepreneurship in many of its academic programs," said Szafran. "Besides preparing skilled career-ready employees, we seek to foster the next generation of business innovators. Our students demonstrated their ability to adapt and grow into the challenges presented by Dr. Fenner and Mr. Zeif."

Verity Lewis
Sustainable Success – Verity J. Lewis of Sandhurst, England, was the third-place winner of the college-wide Roopreneur Challenge. She said she discovered the influential role sustainability has in the future of the restaurant industry.

The college continued its tradition of linking its Roopreneur challenge with an established business. Previously, students have provided valuable research to Long Island-based Day & Nite All Service and Canton's Luna boutique.

About SUNY Canton

As Northern New York's premier college for career-driven bachelor's degrees, associate degrees and professional certificate programs, SUNY Canton delivers quality hands-on programs in engineering technology, management, and healthcare fields. It is home to the Center for Criminal Justice, Intelligence and Cybersecurity. Faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to outstanding academic credentials. As SUNY's leader in online education, SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses as well as 23 online degree programs. The SUNY Canton Kangaroos 15 traditional athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division III level as part of the North Atlantic Conference. SUNY Canton also features varsity esports and cheerleading.