The atrium of Bartley provided the setting to celebrate the winners of the first Start Up Challenge sponsored by the Villanova Entrepreneurial Society last Saturday.

At 5 p.m. students, faculty, sponsors and judges assembled to congratulate the winning undergraduate students, enjoy a sit-down catered dinner, listen to speakers and watch a video created to capture the pivotal moments of the competition.

Mexicali Blues, the grand-prize winning team, won $2,500 for their efforts. They won both first place ($2,000) and for Best Operational Plan (an additional $500 prize). The group, composed of John Enny, Ryan Simonetti, Christopher Kelly and Robert Canelli, worked its way from the "elevator competition," a kind of wildcard entrance into the final competition, and proceeded to win the grand prize.

C&F senior marketing major Enny said, "For our project, we took the given premise and decided that it would be best to sell our patented formula to chemical manufacturers and outsource basically all of our operations keeping cost and overhead low."

Simonetti, also of C&F, said, "I think overall, we probably spent around 35 hours working and developing our plan."

The runner up award was given to "The Regents," which included Michael Crowell, Thomas Hartley, Katie Velotta, Chris McGoldrick and Greg Tombari. Velotta explained, "The basis of our project (Performance Paint, Inc.) was to think outside the box ... Because we had a unique idea, we felt pretty confident about our project but had no idea what other groups were doing."

The team received $1,000 for their project.

Hartley said, "Overall, this was a great event that gives Villanova students an excellent opportunity to work as a team under a strict deadline in a 'real world' situation."

The Villanova Entrepreneurial Society began developing ideas for the Start Up last fall with the help of VES President Adam Siegrist and Vice President Travis McMenimon. Faculty Advisor Dr. James Klingler attributes the program's success to its board members.

"Their capacity to perform together far outstrips the simple sum of their individual contributions," Klinger said.  "They did everything from fund raising to logo design, to making arrangements for the dinner, to organizing the actual competition, to arranging for the prizes - they did it all."

"By the time we got to the formal dinner, all we could really do was sit back and bring our jaws off the floor," Siegrist said. "We truly created something phenomenal."

Several "Category Prizes" prizes of $500 each were awarded for various aspects of teams' projects. The best "Financial Plan" went to "The Polish Club," Dariusz Jamiolkowski, Tom Rachubinski, Joseph Chojnowski, Christopher Koszalka and Michael Malesa.

The best "Marketing Plan" was awarded to team "Street Credit, LLC," comprised of Kevin Heher, Peter Hamm, Timothy Walsh, Brad Weber and Mike White. The "President's Prize" was awarded to the "Super Seniors" Dan Gulick, Tara Bergstrom and LynnMontalbano.

Funds for the programming were provided by the Colleges of Commerce and Finance and Engineering, and by ATC Communications, DVIRC and the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

"This project was a lot of hard work, but everyone on the exec board worked together, and we set an amazing platform for years to come," said Negar Jahanbin, head of public relations for VES.