From left: Dr. Rodney S. Ridley Sr., Cory Varona-Corniel, Nicol Varona-Cancelmo, and Michelle Conway, MBA.
Three finalists representing SPARK Business Incubator
Alvernia University’s O’Pake Institute SPARK Business Incubator client OCOA, a curly hair care company in Reading, Pa. owned by Cory Varona-Corniel and Nicol Varona-Cancelmo, won the $10,000 prize at the tecBRIDGE Business Plan Competition awards ceremony at the FM Kirby Center for Performing Arts in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. on Thursday, April 27.
“This win and having three finalists at the tecBRIDGE Business Plan Competition is a testament to Alvernia & O’Pake’s mission to drive economic development and entrepreneurship while facilitating student experiential learning opportunities,” said Alvernia Vice President of Research Economic Development & Innovation and Chief Operating Officer of the O’Pake Institute, Dr. Rodney S. Ridley Sr. “Entrepreneurs and students get to learn alongside each other while making critical strides in their journey and I am grateful to be able to see that transformation unfold.”
Early-stage entrepreneurs compete in the non-collegiate division and student teams from the region’s colleges and universities compete in the Collegiate Division. Competitors are responsible for deliverables in four areas including an executive summary, competitor analysis, proforma financials and a pitch deck which they presented on April 13. Industry expert judges then evaluate the winners ahead of the awards ceremony where the receive $10,000 and $100,000 in in -kind services to grow their business.
“It feels really amazing to be the winner of the tecBRIDGE Business Plan Competition,” said Varona-Corniel. “Seeing all of the hard work paying off, the hours of practice, mentorship, and having so many people encourage us to get to the finish line is an amazing feeling for us.”