Lander College for Men Announces Winners of Its Entrepreneur of The Year Competition for High School Students

Date: February 19, 2009
Dr. Larry Bellman, left, associate professor of management and director of Touro College’s Entrepreneurial Institute, and Dr. Moshe Sokol, dean of Lander College for Men, flank the winners and benefactors of the inaugural Gryfe-Levy Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award Competition held recently at Touro College’s Graduate School of Business.
Dr. Larry Bellman, left, associate professor of management and director of Touro College’s Entrepreneurial Institute, and Dr. Moshe Sokol, dean of Lander College for Men, flank the winners and benefactors of the inaugural Gryfe-Levy Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award Competition held recently at Touro College’s Graduate School of Business.
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New York, N.Y. - Winners of the Gryfe-Levy Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award were selected at the inaugural competition held recently at Touro College’s Graduate School of Business, sponsored by Touro College’s Lander College for Men (LCM). This competition, a new initiative for LCM, is designed to motivate students at yeshiva high schools by encouraging their ingenuity.

Eight yeshiva high schools from throughout the New York metropolitan area participated in the competition. Out of 18 eligible business plans, five were selected as finalists, from which three were chosen as the winners.

Eric Forkosh of Lawrence, N.Y., a junior at Rambam Mesivta High School, was the grand prize winner for his invention, Bus Alert!, a handheld unit that alerts children and parents when the school bus is arriving. Joseph Benun of Brooklyn, a junior at Yeshiva of Flatbush, took second place for his idea for a chain of vegetarian restaurants, The VeggieBar. The team of Yaacov Schlusselberg and Michael Saltzman, both of Woodmere, N.Y., and both seniors at Rambam Mesivta High School, took third place for a medical alert watch called LifeBand.

The winners were chosen for their creativity, soundness of business plans, and their presentations. A team of business experts selected the winners and prizes totaling $3,000 were awarded, with $1,500 going to the grand prize winner, $1,000 to the second place, and $500 to the third place winner. Students also received plaques honoring their achievements.

“Although we are experiencing a bad economy, there is no shortage of creative ideas coming out of yeshiva high schools,” said Dr. Moshe Sokol, dean of LCM, sponsor of the competition, along with the contest’s organizer, Dr. Larry Bellman, associate professor of management and director of Touro’s Entrepreneurial Institute. “Wealth and capital derive from people who develop sound business ideas, which enrich society at large.”

Dr. Bellman echoed Dean Sokol’s remarks: “We should be proud of all the students who presented their ideas here today and who spent days and weeks creating solid business plans, researching the competition, and having faith in their ideas.”

The team of five judges was led by Gerry Golub of the accounting firm Goldstein Golub Kessler and former head of tax services at American Express. Daniel Gryfe, owner of Gryfe Bakeries, Toronto, and David Levy, vice president of Platinum Partners, LLP, also served as judges and were benefactors of the competition. Other judges included Steven Brown, chairman of the board of overseers of LCM, and a partner in the McGuffin Group, and former chief financial officer of IDT; and Steven Elbaz, a principal of Esquire Management.

Forkosh’s winning project, Bus Alert!, consists of a handheld unit designed to alert children and parents when the school bus is arriving so they don’t have to wait outside in inclement weather (buses would be equipped with a special transmitter). Forkosh said he thought up the idea for the device because he sometimes missed the bus. He said he currently has a patent pending on it and that the idea has the potential to be used by city buses, trains and medical shuttles in the future.

Benun, a self-described “health foodie,” presented an idea for a chain of affordable health food restaurants called The VeggieBar, where waiters would take orders with high-tech handheld devices that record calories and other pertinent information. All food receipts would have a “Nutrition Facts” table printed on the back. The target audience would be college students and the health conscious. Benun also presented a not-for-profit component, The VeggieBar Awareness Sector, which seeks to promote healthy eating and lifestyles through the assistance of government grants.

Schlusselberg’s and Saltzman’s project, LifeBand, an emergency alert device that monitors a client’s pulse and blood pressure, detects irregularities and sends an alert to a response center which, in turn, sends out first aid personnel to check on the client. LifeBand differs from similar devices currently on the market that require the client to push a button when he or she exhibits symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, said Schlusselberg, who added he got the idea for LifeBand after his grandmother fainted one day and he thought of what would have happened had she been alone.

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