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Clarkson University Student Entrepreneurs Take Third Prize at Wake Forest Business Plan Competition

A start-up founded by five Clarkson University students one year ago has earned nearly $50,000 in awards and business competition winnings since then.

Innovative Delivery Systems’ most recent win was at Wake Forest University’s recent “Retail Innovation Challenge - The Elevator Competition” in Winston-Salem, N.C., where the company placed third of 30 teams and won $2,000.

At the collegiate business competition, student company owners from around the country competed to make the perfect “elevator pitch,” a two-minute summary and overview of their businesses.

IDS is comprised of four School of Business sophomores, Dietrich Diehl of Clarence Center, N.Y., Andrew Wegner of Farmington, N.Y., Sean Cheung of Norwich, N.Y., and Christopher Behrens of Rhinebeck, N.Y., and a Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering junior, Steve Akiki of Colchester, Vt.

The Clarkson students developed a smart phone app that allows spectators at sporting events to order concession products from their seats. It was launched in the students’ first-year business class at Clarkson.

IDS also won a $5,000 cash prize at RvD Innovation & Disruptive Innovation pitch competition in Syracuse last spring, a $10,000 first prize in the product/service division at the 2012 New York State Business Plan Competition and a $20,000 first prize at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs’ Sports/Outdoor Business Plan Competition in October.

IDS also received a $12,500 award from the Roth Fund for Student Start-ups, which Clarkson’s Reh Center for Entrepreneurship offers to student companies. IDS was the first recipient of the Roth Fund award.
Behrens, IDS vice president of marketing, said the competitions have been important for the start-up’s growth.

“We have been able to fund our entire venture, thus far, by securing capital through these competitions, while at the same time, creating an extensive network,” he said. “We've made some really good connections with people in our industry or just people who want to see young entrepreneurs succeed -- and that can really make or break a start-up in its early stages.”

Juggling a growing business with an academic workload has been one of the most rewarding experiences of Behrens’ life.

“It can be incredibly demanding and stressful but every once in a while, when I just stop and look back at everything we have accomplished, it is pretty unreal,” he said.

Reh Center Director Marc Compeau praised IDS for its most recent win.

“Each year we ramp up the expectations of our first-year students and the outcome is a more complex -- and in many cases -- more successful new venture,” he said. “It is a credit to the quality of the companies being formed and to the talent and work ethic of our students.”

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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