• Andrew Cooney ’21 holds his first-place check with Emma Fleck, left, associate professor and chair of the Department of Management and Marketing, and John Rendina ’86, right, House of Hawks judge.

March 03, 2020

By By Rachael Blaine ’21

Susquehanna’s third annual House of Hawks competition brought entrepreneurial students before a panel of alumni judges to pitch their business ideas for $2,000 in cash prizes.

Contestants were each given 90 seconds to present their business ideas before taking questions from the audience.

This year’s first-place winner, Andrew Cooney ’21, won $1,000 to jump-start his business venture of Birdseed Houses. Cooney also won the $250 People’s Choice prize, as voted on by members of the audience.

Cooney was inspired by his and his girlfriend’s annual tradition of decorating gingerbread houses. Instead of letting the houses sit and eventually be thrown away at the end of the season, Cooney thought there could be a more sustainable method of decoration that was just as fun and even more useful.

“I’ll market this product to families who are looking for an environmentally friendly alternative to gingerbread houses,” Cooney said.

Instead of candy, each component Cooney’s houses would be made of foods that wild birds eat. Kits would include the structure, decorating material (seeds, corn, berries, grains, etc.), binding material and a hanger apparatus.

“I thought it was a great idea for families to do together not just around the holidays, but year-round,” judge Sarah Blagg ’03 said.

Jordan Harnum ’20 and Isaiah Reiprich ’20 took home the second-place prize of $500 for Keneme, an online platform that allows live-stream gamers to interact and play games with their fans.

Bryce Butler ’21 won the $250 third-place prize for his app Plus1, a social networking site connecting parents who have children with disabilities.

Other participants were:

  • Samantha Locandro ’20, marketing, William Mackrides ’20, marketing, and Andrew Vollenberg ’20, economics, NooN, a subscription-based makeup and skincare service with a sustainable emphasis.
  • Lukas Yurasits ’22, physics, mathematics and computer science, Alanna Connolly ’21, biology, and William McNish ’21, management, Custom Sole, a custom insole company that utilizes 3-D modeling and a subscription plan to ensure customers receive the best fit possible for their shoes.
  • Brianna Mahn ’23, broadcasting and marketing, Worth the Weight, a company that specializes in attractive and targeted weighted workout clothing.
  • Aly Kenawy ’20, finance, VoiceBox, a social media website that focuses exclusively on spoken word audio rather than photos and text.

Alongside keynote speaker Bryan Majors ’10, other judges were John Rendina ’86, Sarah Blagg ’03, and Dylan Furlano ’14.