Rambam Mesivta Student Comes Up With Bus Alert Idea


eric-forkoshIf Eric Forkosh has his way, the days of waiting on a street corner for the school bus to arrive will become a relic of the past. Forkosh, a junior at Rambam Mesivta High School in Lawrence, L.I., created Bus Alert!, a handheld unit that uses radio signals to alert students and parents when the school bus is arriving. The 16-year-old entrepreneur came up with the concept while waiting for 15 minutes in the icy cold, only to discover that he had missed the bus. “There has to be a better way to go about it,” he thought to himself.On a recent evening in February, Forkosh presented the Bus Alert! working prototype that he built himself to a panel of judges at the first annual Gryfe-Levy Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award. The competition was held at Touro College’s Graduate School of Business in Lower Manhattan and sponsored by Touro’s Lander College for Men division.

The Bus Alert! business plan won Forkosh the grand prize of $1,500, beating out 14 other finalists from eight yeshiva high schools in the New York metropolitan area.
Forkosh, a full-time student who moonlights as a mechanics, robotics and electronics consultant and has won several robot design contest, “blew everybody away,” says Larry Bellman, director of Touro College’s Entrepreneurial Institute, and organizer of this event. “The market is potentially awesome. He had all kinds of statistics. He’s a future business person who is destined to be very successful.”

Second prize ($1,000) went to Joseph Benun, a junior at Yeshiva of Flatbush who wants to open a chain of vegetarian restaurants known as The VeggieBar. Yaacov Sclusselberg and Michael Saltzman, both seniors at Rambam, came in third with their idea for a medical alert watch called LifeBand that monitors a person’s pulse and blood pressure.

The contest is an investment in the next generation of Jewish businesspeople, says Daniel Gryfe, chief operating officer at Gryfe’s Ltd., a food manufacturing company, and one of the contest’s benefactors. “When it comes to business opportunities, everyone needs a jumpstart,” he says. “This was a great way to get them thinking entrepreneurially. Not every school focuses on this, which is unfortunate.”

Sometimes the lesson learned was that to attract capital, an idea must appeal to a large market of potential consumers. One of the groups that didn’t win wanted to invent an electronic Talmudic dictionary, sort of a Franklin translator for Gemara. “The judges believed that this device would take away from rabbinical study and was almost like a cheat,” Bellman says.

{Tamar Snyder-The Jewish Week/Matzav.com Newscenter}