Syracuse University has the most submissions to this year’s Central Upstate Regional Alliance Business Plan Competition, making up 39 percent of student business ideas in the running for $5,000. SU also has three teams entered in the $200,000 Emerging Business Competition.

The $5,000 Student Business Idea competition–currently in its fourth year—is open to high school and college students in the 12-county Central Upstate New York region. The competition aims to stimulate innovative ideas with the potential to achieve success in the market while rewarding young entrepreneurs for their creative thinking with seed money to transform their business plans into a growing business.

Among the SU students to submit their business plans are three graduate students in the School of Information Studies (iSchool). Information management students Justin Breese, Shay Colson, and Andrew Farah developed, a web-based company designed for shortening physical mailing addresses. is one project within the trio’s larger start-up, Capesquared, an Internet-based company that houses smaller projects focused on finding more efficient ways for people around globe to use the Internet for collaboration and problem solving.

Breese, Colson, and Farah entered into the $5,000 Student Business Idea Competition. This competition provided them with a great opportunity to continue developing their business while entering into a competition, Farah said.

The $200,000 Emerging Business Competition is one of the largest business plan competitions in the country and is open only to individuals or teams from the Central Upstate New York region with a pre-existing company.

Grafighters, a creative online fighting game, was founded Dave Chenell, a senior in the iSchool, and Eric Cleckner, a senior in the School of Visual and Performing Arts. Chenell and Cleckner submitted their business plan to both the $5,000 competition and the $200,000 competition.

Grafighters allows users to upload their hand-drawn character sketches from computers or mobile devices and watch their animated characters battle against the drawings of their friends. Watch a video.

The duo spent the summer further developing Grafighters in the Student Sandbox program at the Technology Garden in downtown Syracuse. Last semester, Chenell took Mike D’Eredita’s fall course, What’s the Big Idea, and this semester both Chenell and Cleckner are enrolled in the follow-up course, Idea2Startup. Learn more about the courses at

Grafighters was voted as the crowd favorite and the most investable start-up company on Demo Day in August 2009. The company was also named Central New York’s “Economic Champions” by the Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce. Later this year, Chenell and Cleckner plan to enter the SU Panasci Business Plan Competition at the Whitman School of Management.

Submissions for both the 5k and the 200k competitions will be viewed by judging panels looking for the most innovative and growth-oriented plan or emerging business in Central Upstate New York. The two finalists for the Business Plan Competition will present their ideas at the Emerging Business Competition, while the five finalists for the Emerging Business Competition will give a final 15-minute presentation to a panel of judges. Student winners will be announced on April 27, 2010.

The Central Upstate Regional Alliance was launched in September 2004 to encourage collaborative regional development. The 42-member, 12-county public-private economic development consortium is building a coalition of regional leaders from business, academia and the public sector, willing to work together on a common agenda. The alliance includes Cayuga, Cortland, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego,
Seneca, St. Lawrence and Tompkins counties. For more information, visit