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Houghton Team Wins Third Place at Startup Allegany Collegiate Competition

May 3, 2022

Houghton team, “Swift Solar”, won third place at the second annual Startup Allegany Collegiate Competition on April 9th.  The team, made up of students Evan Tsai ’22, Dawit Hutter ’22, and Sofia Gildemeister ’22, and mentored by Lionel Legry of Cuba Restorations LLC and Alex Wright, assistant professor of business administration, presented their idea of a solar consulting company that would help connect homeowners with installers. They specifically emphasized the opportunity to Allegany County homeowners on energy consumption, solar tax credits, and the opportunity to generate clean energy.

“This competition was a great way to directly apply our business classroom learning. We were especially challenged in developing the proposed company’s value proposition, as well as evaluating the financial implications of doing business in New York,” said Evan Tsai.

The competition, titled “AHA” because it involved students from Allegany County’s three institutions of higher education—Alfred University, Houghton College, and Alfred State College—was based on solving problems faced by businesses, with a goal of promoting sustainability through entrepreneurship.  Multiple teams from all three institutions participated in the competition.  The top three teams were awarded prizes totaling $6,500.

The event was hosted by the Center for Advanced Ceramic Technology at Alfred University and was organized by IncubatorWorks. Startup Allegany is a county-wide stakeholder group that meets regularly to promote entrepreneurship in Allegany County. Members include Allegany County, Alfred State College, Alfred University, Houghton College, IncubatorWorks, ACCORD Corp., and the Western New York Incubator Network. 

I am very proud of the work that Dawit, Sofia, and Evan put into this project in a relatively short period of time. Not only did they come up with the great business idea of being a solar brokerage firm, but they researched geographic and industry factors, analyzed projected financial outcomes, thought through opportunities and challenges, and then distilled all of this into a five-minute pitch video for the competition. After the pitch video was shown at the competition, the team was asked several questions by the judges to which they responded knowledgeably and articulately. They represented themselves and Houghton College extremely well.  -Alex Wright, Assistant Professor of Business Administration