Meet Tony C.

Entrepreneurship Graduate

“I think it was really good that I started at Hudson Valley because it prepared me not just academically but mentally.”

Tony Chedrawee comes from a family of internationally-based entrepreneurs – his father runs a mozzarella cheese factory for the growing number of pizza shops in Accra, Ghana - so it’s not surprising that he has more than a little innovative spirit.

A 2015 graduate of the college’s Entrepreneurship program, Tony is continuing his business education at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and he recently won the prestigious RPI Business Model Competition for a product he developed called AnyWeight, a modular weight system.

Tony came up with a seed of the idea while a student here at Hudson Valley and by the time he was at RPI, the idea had begun to blossom into a business plan. AnyWeight deals with the inconvenience of using big, bulky metal weight plates for exercise. They have to be re-racked on barbells and then there’s the problem of them falling on your toes. What if someone could design a system where a single weight could take on a range of resistance? The business model pitch worked, he said, in part, because of the presentation skills he learned as an Entrepreneurship student here.

“I pitched the business model we had and the market we were aiming at – gyms, hotels. There were a lot of great ideas in the competition but I noticed that a lot of the people that presented had only the technical engineering background and not the entrepreneurial education and that’s one thing that may have given me the advantage,” he said.

The competition comes with a small amount of prize money that Tony will be able to reinvest in developing the idea as well as some free legal services that he’s utilizing to do patent searches.

“I think it was really good that I started at Hudson Valley because it prepared me not just academically but mentally, in a sense,” he said. “One of the major things I took away from the program here is the entrepreneurial mindset.”

Tony and several other RPI students also finished second in another recent business competition – the Startup RPI competition, sponsored by Deloitte. In that competition, he and a friend presented the concept of a campus-wide energy micro-grid system. Not only would RPI be more energy independent but, he argued in the presentation, building an academic program based on micro-grid energy would place the college at the forefront of designing that technology.

“We got a lot of validation and support from the faculty and administration after the presentation, and we are working on building a more detailed proposal and seeking some grants. Part of what I learned between RPI and here was learning how to break down concepts and present them in a clear and structured way. That’s a lot of what we did at Hudson Valley. All of those classes I took here prepared me for presentations like this.”