WCSU students’ business plan wins top award in statewide competition
Presentation of product innovation recognized for entrepreneurial excellence

DANBURY, CONN. Western Connecticut State University students Rachael Karp and Helen Christie Roberts earned the Best Oral Presentation Award for their pitch of Karp’s product innovation, “On Board,” at the Connecticut Business Plan Competition held on April 22, 2016, in New Haven.

Image of students Rachael Karp and Helen Christie Roberts with Dr. Pauline AssenzaKarp and Roberts prevailed in the competition finals over business plan presentations by 10 other student teams from Connecticut colleges including Yale University, the University of Connecticut, Quinnipiac University, the University of Hartford, Fairfield University, Central Connecticut State University and the University of Bridgeport. They qualified for the finals after their written executive summary made the cut among 26 student project submissions.

Karp, a Hamden resident who is pursuing a dual major in technical theatre and marketing, originated the concept to develop “On Board,” a modular headboard system designed to customize college students’ use of their dormitory beds as study space by providing accessories including a cup holder, book light, charger for electronic devices and storage pouch. After her successful presentation of the product concept at the WCSU Marketing Club “Big Idea” competition last fall, Karp produced a prototype with support from Western faculty advisers and use of the Danbury Hackerspace. Roberts, a Wilton resident who is majoring in social science, teamed up with Karp to survey more than 250 WCSU students this spring to validate potential demand for the product, and space has been negotiated in the WCSU bookstore for sale of the initial “On Board” units to be produced. 

Dr. Pauline Assenza, associate professor of management and adviser to the Entrepreneurship, Research and Innovation Center (ERIC) student club at WCSU, served as faculty mentor to Karp and Roberts for the competition. Karp is the current president of ERIC, founded last year to seek out entrepreneurial and other creative opportunities for WCSU students and facilitate partnerships between students and local business mentors.

The Connecticut Business Plan Competition is sponsored by the Entrepreneurship Foundation Inc. and the Connecticut Consortium of Entrepreneurship Educators. The Best Oral Presentation Award, sponsored by Cliff and Dee Ennico, includes a monetary grant of $500.

For more information, contact Assenza at assenzap@wcsu.edu or the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.



Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.

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