Virtual Enterprise Contest at Genesee Lifts Business Students to New Heights

Nothing like a virtual trade fair to get the competitive juices flowing. Just ask Cathie Hogan, business / computer teacher and adviser to M³ (Movies, Music & More) - the award-winning company created and cultivated by her 12th-grade students.

"We may be a small school at Lyndonville but we're very competitive," said Hogan, speaking of her team of business-minded pupils who are looking forward to Thursday's (Dec. 1) Rochester Regional Virtual Enterprise competition at Genesee Community College. "The kids want to do well. It's a great avenue to compete, not just athletically."

Hogan, who also coaches basketball at the Orleans County school, has helped students achieve at the virtual trade fair at Genesee for the past three years.

"Genesee Community College has played a big part, through (College) Tech Prep, to make this event happen. I attended some summer workshops and was convinced that it was something that would add to the business program here at Lyndonville."

The all-day trade fair at Genesee allows the Virtual Enterprise students who have spent much time developing a unique product or service to test their concepts and business plans against those created by their peers.

Students work in teams to explore and expand their entrepreneurial spirit and business sense - from the inception of a business idea to a comprehensive business and marketing plan.

Lyndonville will be one of about 30 high schools, including 10 from the GLOW (Genesee-Livingston-Orleans-Wyoming) region, taking part in the event. Last year, M³ took first place for the best overall marketing theme and was second to Alexander Central's Bare Necessities, a gift basket company, in total sales. In 2004, Lyndonville placed sixth out of 100 schools from around the world in the International Virtual Enterprise Trade Fair in New York City.

Debbie Dunlevy, College Tech Prep director at Genesee, said she is amazed at the students' ability to develop a product line and sales plan and to oversee marketing, payroll, human resources and other important facets of running a business."The trade fair (which takes place in the college Forum) is something to behold," she said. "The companies set up their tables and come up with some neat giveaways. It's very visual."

Dunlevy said the public is welcome to participate. Every person receives $3,000 in virtual money to spend it based on what they think is most enticing. Judging is conducted in the following categories -- most sales, best booth and best marketing practices.

Lyndonville's product line evolved after much deliberation, Hogan said. "It took a long time for the students to come up with a company that they felt students would be able to relate to," she said. "It's an e-commerce company (M³'s Web site is They needed to think of products that kids, who make about $6 an hour, could buy."

Internet surfers are welcome to check out the Web site, but don't expect to actually purchase anything. "Everything is virtual," Hogan said.

Hogan noted that her students are working on a redesign for their Web site and always are striving to "keep making their product better."

Editor's Note: A photograph of students participating in last year's Virtual Trade Fair is available at the following Internet location: Tonya Castor was Marilyn Monroe and Adam Bachman was Elvis.