Finalists Selected For 2014 ‘Next Great Idea’ $25,000 Oswego County Business Plan Competition, Music Instrument Covers, Ontario Soap Company and Party & Play Cafe have been selected as the four finalists for the 2014 Next Great Idea Oswego County Business Plan Competition- it was announced by Austin Wheelock, chair of the NGI steering committee.

On Nov. 13, each finalist will give a 20-minute presentation on their business plan in-person to the panel of judges.

Following the presentation, a luncheon and awards ceremony announcing the winner will be held at The Lake Ontario Event and Conference Center, 26 E. First St., Oswego. The keynote speaker will be Pam Caraccioli, deputy to the president for external partnerships and economic development at SUNY Oswego.

“November 13h will mark the culmination of the 2014 Next Great Idea Oswego County Business Plan Competition,” Wheelock said. “This year’s finalists have worked extremely hard to position themselves to win $25,000 towards developing their business ventures here in Oswego County.”

Austin Rudd, Bookbrawl
Austin Rudd,

Finalist and the business team led by Austin Rudd is an online platform headquartered in Oswego County that allows students to create their own textbook marketplaces on campuses to reduce the cost of books and supplies. Rudd has developed a unique marketing and referral system that sets them apart from their competitors. The company has also made a pledge to invest back into the communities in which it does business. A portion of each sale would go to local non-profits engaged with childhood literacy and learning.

Based on his experience in the music industry, Finalist Matthew Vacanti has identified an opportunity to develop a colorful and protective covering for string instruments like violins, violas, and cellos. This business would be called Music Instrument Covers. These products would be manufactured here in Oswego County and marketed worldwide to schools, professional musicians and the general public.

Matthew Vacanti, Music Instrument Covers
Matthew Vacanti, Music Instrument Covers

Finalist Ontario Soap Company and owner, Heather Shambo will create luxury soaps and body care products using locally sourced ingredients from Oswego County. High quality local products used in the soap production such as chocolate, coffee beans, wine, etc. will be a focus of the business’s marketing efforts, which will help to position the business and to create positive branding for Oswego County’s agricultural products and local businesses.

Identifying a need for a quality children’s play outlet in the Oswego area was the business opportunity catalyst for finalist Karen Crisafulli who has proposed an event and play location called Party and Play Café that would focus on children’s entertainment but would also be adult friendly. This business would help encourage early age socialization in an indoor environment, with a healthy food and drink menu for children and adults.

Heather Shambo, Ontario Soap Company
Heather Shambo, Ontario Soap Company

This year’s Next Great Idea competition received nineteen innovative ideas ranging from advanced manufacturing to health care to internet based platforms and tourism.

These ideas were all from local and regional entrepreneurs who would like to develop or expand their business in Oswego County.

Some of the anticipated outcomes from this year’s and future NGI competitions include, but are not limited to: developing a culture of innovation and entrepreneurism in Oswego county; improving the quality of life for the community by bringing innovative and needed businesses and services to Oswego County; fighting the ‘brain drain’ by encouraging the best and brightest to stay here; creating new job opportunities and markets; and expanding the tax base, Wheelock said.

The $25,000 prize was raised in partnership with private banks, local companies and public and private institutions that see the importance in making an investment in Oswego County’s economic future.

Financial and in-kind sponsors include: Richard S. Shineman Foundation, Key Bank, PathFinder Bank, Entergy Nuclear, New York Business Development Corp., NADCO, Operation Oswego County, SUNY Oswego, Small Business Development Center at SUNY Oswego, Centerstate CEO, Launch NY, C&S Companies, Chirello Advertising, Oswego County Business Magazine, and Mitchell’s Speedway Press.

Karen Crisafulli, Play Cafe'
Karen Crisafulli, Play Cafe’

The Next Great Idea web site,, includes an overview of the event, a competition timeline, guidelines, and details on the $25,000 prize, sponsors, partners and contact information.

In addition, the $25,000 can potentially be leveraged to borrow up to $250,000 in partnership with local banks, the Oswego County Industrial Development Agency, the cities of Oswego and Fulton community development offices, the U.S. Small Business Administration, New York Business Development Corporation and other economic development agencies, Wheelock said.

For more information about the Next Great Idea Oswego County Business Plan Competition, visit, or contact them at [email protected]

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Located in the Key Bank Building, Fulton, Chirello Advertising offers full service advertising, public relations, and marketing expertise to a variety of industrial, professional, institutional and retail clients throughout Central New York. Established in 1996, the agency specializes in public relations planning, graphic design, web design and streaming web video, video production, market research, radio, television, online, and print advertising. Steve Chirello can be contacted at (315) 592-9778, [email protected] and Profiles of the agency are also on Facebook® and LinkedIn®.