Last week, at the 87th Annual Hotel Ezra Cornell, the winning team of the 2012 Cornell Hospitality Business Plan Competition was co-headed by Vijay Sundar, a second year in the Program in Real Estate. The Cornell Hospitality Business Plan Competition is an annual competition hosted by The Leland C. and Mary M. Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship and students undertake a four month process in preparing their business plan. The business plan development is a rigorous process, with each plan offering robust market research, financial models, capital raising plans and an exit strategy. This year there were 30 submissions and only five finalists were selected to present during the Hotel Ezra Cornell weekend. As a finale to the competition, the winning team is awarded $15,000 to put their visionary business plan into action. This year’s winning business plan was The DC Factory and was co-headed by Vijay Sundar, a second year in the Program in Real Estate, who is preparing to graduate from the Program next month.
The concept, The DC Factory, was developed in conjunction with Anukul Chandhok, a senior undergraduate student in the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell. Eariler this year, the two met through mutual friends in the Hotel School’s Negotiations class and quickly realized that their business idea had serious potential.
Both Anukul and Vijay hail from India and their concept is focused on the market which they know best – India. After perceiving a significant opportunity in the market, the two devised a plan that would bring healthy and hygenic food service to the bustling subways beneath the streets of India’s second largest metropolis – New Delhi. The food stands would operate in the subway stations and serve traditional Indian food and rolls to New Delhi’s commuters and subway patrons. Vijay stated that, “while there are a lot of food options in India, many of the options are not very healthy or are lacking in the proper preparation and handling hygiene.” Thus, there is significant opportunity for The DC Factory to enter the market with a convenient and healthy dining alternative. The plan for The DC Factory also includes an incorporation of information technology to differentiate and add further convenience for customers, allowing customers to pre-order and pay on their smart phones and pick up their order at their desintation station with a minimal wait time.
The $15,000 first prize will be used to start to implement the program. They plan to implement The DC Factory first in New Dehli, because the metro system infrastructure is the most developed in that city. They would then look to expand to other cities where the Metro infrastucture is being developed.
Reflecting on the business plan competition, Vijay noted, “This competition was a great experience, not just for the prize money, but also to have exposure to many potential investors who are very interested in the business plan. As a result of our presentation at Hote Ezra Cornell, they have asked for our contacat info so that they might invest in our concept.” This type of exposure to hospitality industry leaders and entrepreneurs offers unparalled access for students to connect with venture capital sources. Vijay strongly advocates that other students should do this competition because they will develop skills and build credibility with investors in the community, which is an integral part of raising money to turn a great idea into a successful business enterprise.
By next fall, when the 2013 Cornell Hospitality Business Competition will begin anew, perhaps The DC Factory will already be well on its way to satisfying the hunger of commuters all around New Delhi. The plan is certainly off to a promising start.