The Marketsmith, Inc. Award for Entrepreneurship is an annual $5,000 award endowed by Monica C. Smith, President and CEO of Marketsmith, Inc., a multi-channel marketing company, and a 1990 graduate of the Mount. She saw the award as a way of promoting entrepreneurship among college students so that they would be inspired to start their own businesses. The College has since doubled the amount of Ms. Smith’s pledge through the support of other donors..
The Marketsmith, Inc. Entrepreneurship Competition is open to students from all majors at the College. Applicants must submit an original business proposal which is judged by a panel of three alumni. This year the judges were: Mary Frances Barrett ‘70, CEO of The Hebrew Hospital Home, Gail Vance Civille ‘65, founder and President of Sensory Spectrum, a global management consulting firm specializing in understanding the sensory experience; and Kelvin Gentles ’05, VP of the Music Life Entertainment Group, LLC, and a Director at Changing Our World, Inc, a national philanthropic consulting firm. The panel identifies and evaluates 15 key points in the proposals such as profitability, growth potential for the target market, start-up costs, and originality.
Karen Ford, Associate Director for College Relations, sat down with Ms. Burud to talk about her inspiration for the project and about her plans as a recent graduate.
KF: Kate, congratulations on being the very first Marketsmith, Inc. Award winner. Tell us about your winning proposal.
Kate: Thank you very much. In my plan I envisioned a sports-oriented day care center for children aged two through six which is tailored for the active and athletically-inclined child. My plan is an overview of the business’ operations, facility, daily activities, development programs, budget, staffing as well advertising and marketing.
KF: What was your inspiration?
Kate: I was a three-sport athlete in high school – track and field, basketball and field hockey (field hockey is the toughest on the shins). I’ve been a shooting guard on the women’s varsity basketball team at the Mount for the past four years. I started playing at the age of five. During the summer following my junior year, I played basketball in Australia. We got the opportunity through a fundraising organization. We spent two weeks with other Division 3 teams. It was in Melbourne…what an amazing time. I’ve always played in Division 3, it’s where you play just because you love the game. There’s no money, no athletic scholarships, just a passion for basketball. That’s where my inspiration came from, that and that I love being around kids.
KF: What makes your plan unique?
Kate: The plan is unique because it focuses on a healthy lifestyle. This is especially important in kids at this age (two through six) during their early development. They need to be taught healthy habits early on in their lives. The facility would have all programming that a traditional facility and would also have a focus on sports and health. There will be different rooms for different sports. The kids will learn all their basics but also how to participate in sports, function as a team, the rules, good sportsmanship, a healthy diet.
Today, kids are not active enough. If we can get them early on, we can create a healthy adulthood for them by laying the right groundwork. It’s also great for the parents. They get quality childcare and their kids get to be involved in sports and the parents don’t have to be athletes themselves.
KF: Tell us about your interest in business.
Kate: There are so many opportunities out there for business majors. I really see myself climbing the corporate ladder in a business capacity, in sports, or both. I can definitely see opening my own business. The Mount really opened up my eyes to new options. An idea that you come up with can become a reality.
I truly enjoyed the small business class I took with Professor Feigelman. As a requirement of the class I had to do an internship. I ended up in a position with the NYC Parks and Recreation Department as part of their event planning team. I learned a lot! Communication skills, how to work with sponsors, all the planning that goes on behind the scenes to produce a big event. I also did typical office work such as data entry. This was no fluff internship, they made us work. One of the events we produced was “Old School Games” for schoolchildren from Harlem. We had hundreds of families in Central Park playing games like stickball and hopscotch. It was a great event.
KF: How did you choose the Mount?
Kate: Being from upstate, I knew I had to be in the city, I had to be at a small school with small classes. I come from a small town, Red Hook…not the one in Brooklyn. It’s near Poughkeepsie. There were about 150 kids in my graduating high school class.
I also wanted to play Division 3 ball. That’s why I chose the Mount, and it has been the best decision I could have made. One of the great things about the Mount for me is being a part of a team. We had a great season this year. We won the Hudson Valley Women’s Championship, in fact we went undefeated in Hudson Valley for the season. We placed 3rd in the Skyline Conference.
My parents were really happy with my decision. My dad’s my greatest supporter. He’s been to every game of mine for the past 4 years, except for maybe two or three. That’s around 100 games.
KF: What would be your dream job?
Kate: I think I would either coach basketball, or do sports management for a WNBA team like the NY Liberty. That’s why I like business. It gives you a lot of opportunities...you can go anywhere you want with it.
KF: How did you find out that you won the award?
Kate: I got an email from Dr. Ramirez, Chair of Business and Economics, saying I should call her. At first I was afraid because she’s also my academic advisor. There was this momentary panic…I thought, am I going to graduate? Well, of course I was, and she told me I had won.
KF: What do you plan on doing with your award money?
Kate: I plan on putting it towards opening the day care center.
KF: Monica Smith, the CEO of Marketsmith, Inc. is a Mount grad and a very successful businesswoman. Do you see her as a role model?
Kate: Oh yes, absolutely. Before I do anything with my award I would like the opportunity to speak with Monica Smith. I want to see how she started her company.