Through a significant gift, the Finker-Frenkel Legacy Foundation created the Business Plan Competition Endowed fund, which will forever finance the annual University of Miami Business Plan Competition, hosted by the School of Business. The foundation’s gift also financed renovations of the School’s outdoor gathering and study space, which was dedicated Nov. 14 as the Finker-Frenkel Family Promenade.
Now in its 16th year, the Business Plan Competition awards nearly $50,000 in prize money annually to University of Miami students and alumni to help them launch or grow startup ventures. “My family came here 25 years ago with $100 in their pockets and were able to build a major multinational business because of their entrepreneurial spirit and the environment this country has provided to them,” said Eugene Frenkel (MBA ’12), co-director of the Finker-Frenkel Legacy Foundation and CEO of Legacy Group of Companies. “The entrepreneurial spirit is extremely important, and we want to foster those values and create that environment for the students at the U,” he added as he addressed a crowd that included University of Miami President Julio Frenk, School of Business Dean John Quelch and several past Business Plan Competition winners.
Students whose lives were changed by the Business Plan Competition include David Gantt (BBA ’18) and Chester Montefering (BSIE ’18), cofounders of Therion PC. Last year, they won the $10,000 Grand Prize in the undergraduate student category for their idea to build and market water-cooled PCs to gamers. Gantt and Montefering used their winnings to diversify their product line and build more powerful computers, and now they’re working on a website where they will sell their products. “The computers we are building are expensive, and I don’t have $5,000 in my back pocket to put into this,” Gantt said. “We’re designing the computers from the ground up, and that takes trial and error. The money allowed us to go all out in the design process to make it look as cool and be as powerful as possible!”
During the dedication, Frenkel shared that his favorite addition to the Finker-Frenkel Promenade is an oversized screen – one of the largest at a business school in the U.S. It will carry live feeds from Storer Auditorium, among other uses. Standing in front of the screen, he reminisced about his days as a student, singling out his favorite professor, Anuj Mehrotra, the School’s senior vice dean, vice dean for faculty development and research and Leslie O. Barnes Scholar and professor of management science. Mehrotra later told the crowd: “As a professor, I take great pride in his success, and this gift is particularly impactful because it supports student ideas and innovations.”