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Sonoma State University Students Collaborate and Win Big

December 10, 2013 2:43 PM


Sonoma State University Students Collaborate and Win Big

Sonoma State students won $2,500 for their innovative business plan.
Rohnert Park, CA -
A group of four students received $2,500 last night as part of a unique final exam, thanks to Sonoma State University business professor Armand Gilinsky's "Show Me the Money" competition and the Green Music Center.

Gilinsky was awarded $15,000 earlier this year as a portion of the Green Music Center's Academic Integration Grants. Marne Olson, vice-chair of the board of advisors for the Green Music Center, said the program's goal is to foster and showcase academic integration in creative ways.

"These projects encourage both faculty and students to look for novel and creative ways to integrate the arts with other disciplines in the university," she said. "The ability to 'think outside the box' is crucial."

Gilinsky, who received the grant to create a certificate in Creative Arts and Digital Media Business, created the competition as a pilot for the cross-disciplinary collaboration his certificate would entail. Students of his Small Business and Entrepreneurship course (BUS 451) partnered with students and faculty from outside the business department to create innovative and entrepreneurial business plans.

"College is the time to do something really cool and not be afraid to fail," said Gilinsky, noting that the projects' requirement for interdisciplinary collaboration taught students how to foster creativity on the management side, and management expertise on the creative side.

"The idea of having non-business students learn from other students is valuable," he said. "It's a great way for business students to prove they've learned something; it's the key to longevity."

The teams presented their plans to a panel of judges in an Elevator Pitch Competition on Dec. 2 in the Green Music Center. The top five moved on to last night's final round.

Nicole Griffith, Kyle Mossman, Casey Sullivan and Maurice Mickel placed first with their project "VINdata," a service for small to mid-sized wineries offering customer tracking and technical support. James Waggoner, Alan Chao and Mike Koricki, who worked on "," received second place and $1,500 for their app that would help road cyclists plan their rides. The third place team consisted of Romy Bonifacio, Tina Harris, David Castino and Erin Nelson, winning $1,000 for their plan for a solar panel cleaning company, "Solar Sweepers."

The faculty advisor for the winning team was Ali Kooshesh of the Computer Science Department. The other advisors included Emily Acosta Lewis of the Communications Department, Patrick Bailey of the Environmental Studies and Planning Department, Paul Draper of the Theatre Arts Department and Lynne Morrow of the Music Department. The professors split a portion of the grant for their work.

"Holy cow! We did it!" said winner Nicole Griffith after the competition.

"This was the greatest experience in my college career," said Sullivan.

"Ultimately, I hope this will begin to attract support for creative and performing arts management programs," said Gilinsky. "It would make us a unique university."


For more information, please contact: Annemarie Brown 707-664-2221,

Photo: From left: student Casey Sullivan, Dean William Silver, student Nicole Griffith, student Kyle Mossman and student Maurice Mickel. The students competed in the "Show Me the Money" competition and won first place for their "VINdata" business plan.

About Sonoma State University School of Business and Economics
Sonoma State University School of Business and Economics' vision is to be the educational nucleus of a thriving North Bay economy. Its mission is to create extraordinary learning experiences for our students and to advance best business practices in the North Bay and beyond. Creating a vibrant community, developing a sustainable business model for entrepreneurship in higher education, and developing and delivering innovative programs and processes are express goals for its campus-wide, community-reaching entrepreneurship initiative. With undergraduate, graduate, and executive programs serving over 1,500 students each year and concentrations in Accounting, Finance, Management, Marketing, Wine Business, and Economics, the School offers the most in-demand degree on the Sonoma State campus. The School of Business and Economics is accredited by AACSB (the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), making it one of 15% of all business schools in the world to meet these standards of excellence. For more information, visit

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1801 East Cotati Avenue, Rohnert Park, CA, 94928 • 707-664-2377 16683