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On campus, real-life lessons for business students

Michael Brandt, of Hofstra, Malachi Winstead, of Uniondale

Michael Brandt, of Hofstra, Malachi Winstead, of Uniondale High School, Andrew Schuetz, of Hofstra, Christopher Cerney, of Hofstra, and Daniel Epps, of Uniondale High School, present their business plan at a Capital One Entrepreneurship program at Hofstra University, in Uniondale. Credit: Photo by Ed Betz

It all looked a bit like "American Idol," minus the singing.

Instead of the singing, students from Hofstra University and Uniondale High School took to a podium on the Hofstra campus in Uniondale one morning last week to tell a panel of judges from Capital One Bank how they planned, in a unique program during the regular school year, to operate three separate businesses that are supposed to wind up at the end of the spring semester turning a profit - something full-time business people have trouble doing these days.

"We are a small business," Andrew Schuetz, part of a Hofstra/Uniondale team that is going to run an apparel business called SMF Fashion, proudly told the panel of stern-faced bankers. "But that doesn't scare us," Schuetz said. SMF plans to sell T-shirts and other items to Hofstra and Uniondale students.

"We're facing [competitors with] economies of scale," Schuetz said. "But we hope to undercut their prices."

Another "team" of one Hofstra and four Uniondale students will operate The Game Room, which will allow Uniondale students to play video games at a room in the school after school hours. The admission to the room is $2 and it's $1 to play a game. "It'll allow students to relax and get into some competitions," said Uniondale's Alicia Miller.

A third team of six students will run a tutoring service, Tutoring Wizards. Capital One is providing each "team" with $3,000 in seed money to start the business and pay for equipment and material, said Andrew Corrado, the bank's senior vice president.

Richard Hayes, an assistant business professor at Hofstra who heads the "Capital One Campus Entrepreneurship Challenge," said he came up with the idea for the students to run businesses because reading case studies can be dry.

"My goal in all of this is if they make a profit, it's mission accomplished," Hayes said.

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