HUDSON, N.Y. — Two alumni of the Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corporation’s (HVADC) Farm and Food Accelerator program were awarded first and second places in the SUNY Adirondack’s inaugural Business Plan Competition, February 7. The competition was conducted by the College’s Business Central office, which hosts a new Center for Entrepreneurship.
Lavenlair Farm of Whitehall won the $5,000 first place prize, and Argyle Cheese Factory LLC (dba Argyle Cheese Farmer) of Argyle took home the $2,000 second place prize in their competition class. Both were participants in the 2016-2017 class of the HVADC Accelerator.
Diane and David Allen are the owners of Lavenlair Farms, a 4,000 plant farm selling 32 varieties of lavender and producing a wide range of lavender bath and body products and lavender honey. The property also includes a 200 year old farmhouse and meditative labyrinth, a lavender field for events and hosts farm to table events. Marge and Dave Randles, Argyle Cheese Farmer owners, are hands-on cheese and yogurt makers, using milk from their family dairy farm. They produce cheese, buttermilk and award winning (New York State Fair Blue Ribbon) yogurt, which are also used in other products they make – smoothies, salad dressings, cheesecakes and dips.
“The HVADC program was instrumental in both businesses being recognized. Our wins are your successes!” said Diane Allen after receiving the award.
SUNY Adirondack’s Business Plan Competition was open in two categories: Student, current SUNY Adirondack students were eligible, and Community, which was open to both start-up and existing ventures physically located in Warren, Washington and Saratoga counties. Lavenlair and Argyle are both located in Washington County. Each competitor was allotted 15 minutes for a ‘Pitch Presentation” with the first 10 minutes dedicated to them presenting their product/service and business concept, and the last five minutes used for judge question and answers. Presentations were to be limited to ten slides or less.
A three judge panel evaluated each participant scoring them on the points of market opportunity, competitive advantage, management capability, financial understanding, venture maturity, concept viability, and the actual clarity of the pitch presentation itself.
“If I hadn’t participated in the HVADC Accelerator program, I would never have been prepared to put together this presentation in the short time we were given,” said Marge Randles. “That program taught me how to organize a presentation, what to say and how to do it in a timely manner. That training was invaluable, and really contributed to our success,” she continued.
Both Marge Randles and Diane Allen are participating in HVADC’s current Farm and Food Funding Accelerator program, giving back to the program by serving as mentors to the next class of Peers.
“The Accelerator program was thorough grounding in best business practices for us. It was a priceless opportunity to network with farming peers, rounded out by mentoring by HVADC advisors, and the atmosphere was always entrepreneurial, can-do, and supportive,” said Diane Allen.
SUNY Adirondack’s Assistant Dean for Continuing Education & Workforce Innovation, Caelynn Prylo, who oversees Business Central, added that “SUNY Adirondack is thrilled to have hosted this program to promote small businesses and entrepreneurship of all kinds in our region. Washington county agriculture is such an important economic driver locally and it’s great to see two local agricultural ventures come out on top in this competition.” Of note, the College also works with Lavenlair through its Continuing Education Office to offer classes and tours. SUNY Adirondack recently developed and created an Agricultural Business Associate’s degree program, which began accepting students in Fall 2018.
For additional information about HVADC’s Accelerator program, visit https://www.hvadc.org/farm-food-funding-accelerator.
The HVADC is the region’s sole economic development agency with a specific focus on the viability of the agricultural economy in the Hudson Valley. It assists both new and existing agri-businesses such as farms, food businesses and food distributors, by providing technical and business consultation and resources. The non-profit promotes balanced, market-based solutions that lead to enhanced agricultural entrepreneurship, rural economic growth and community enhancement. For more information, please visit: www.Hvadc.org. HVADC produces a monthly-newsletter The Cultivator featuring its initiatives, partnerships and the businesses of its clients. For more information, visit: www.Hvadc.org.