An 18-year-old graduate was awarded $10,000 Thursday to start his own business during the Long Island Young Entrepreneur Challenge at Capital One Bank in Melville.
Alex Tsunis was one of two recipients to receive the cash award and a new laptop after pitching his idea to several top bankers and investors on Long Island.
His idea is to create a bike and moped rental business within Port Jefferson so that visitors and residents have an opportunity to see all that the area has to offer. The judges were particularly impressed with Tsunis’ ability to see a need for his business, since the closest moped rental shop is in Nantucket.
“It’s really crazy,” he said while holding his oversized check. “I couldn’t believe it when they said my name.”
Tsunis will head off for his first semester at High Point University in North Carolina next week, but he’s ready to put his business plan into action.
“The first step is to put a lease down on the building and put up a sign. I want to open on Friday, March 1, 2013 because it’s the first Friday of the month,” he said.
Rich Dallojacono, of Selden, who graduated from Northeastern University in May, also wowed the judges as a second winner with his idea to create Serv-IT, an application to improve restaurant efficiency.
“It takes the ordering process into the ‘cloud’ so that a when a server takes an order, it can immediately be sent to the cooks,” he said.
In addition to making the jobs of restaurant workers easier, the application would allow for customers to easily split the bill among parties.
“It feels unbelievable”, Dallojacono said when his name was announced. “This will hopefully start me on the right track.”
The goal of the LI Young Entrepreneur challenge is to support economic development of Long Island, and provide mentorship for the area’s young business leaders, said Joseph Scaretta, Chief Development Officer of Empire Facilities Management Group, which sponsored the event.
The budding entrepreneurs in room were able to take advice from the event’s keynote speaker, Daymond John, who started the $4 billion grossing clothing line, FUBU when he was just 22 years old.
John started his clothing company with a few T-shirts in his mother’s basement. Seeing a market for urban wear, he created For Us, Buy US (FUBU).
After making his millions, John immediately started to give back by providing mentorship to young business minds.
“Entrepreneurship is what is going to save our country,” he said. “Growing up, we were told to go to school, get a job, find a good mate and when you retire, you’ll have a great pension. That doesn’t happen anymore, which is why entrepreneurs are our future.”