Nikhil Pawar (Front row, fourth from right) advanced to the finals of the New York State Business Plan Competition.

LIU Brooklyn MBA student Nikhil Pawar represented the University with distinction in the New York State Business Plan Competition, advancing to the statewide finals in late April with his plan to market sustainable biogas for cooking to home users in India.

It wasn’t school pride or a competitive mindset that motivated Pawar to enter the contest, however. Instead, it was genuine entrepreneurial spirit and intellectual curiosity.

“I was just curious to know what the judges thought,” Pawar said.

Pawar already had sustainable business on his mind when he was tasked with coming up for a business plan in an entrepreneurship class with Associate Professor Christoph Winkler. Winkler encouraged students to think seriously about something they would want to do, and use that as the basis for their work. Pawar initially considered a business involving solar panels, but his thoughts quickly turned to biogas.

“I dug a little deeper,” Pawar said, “and companies were mostly focused on commercial use, and it wasn’t helping individual households.”

Pawar continued his research, looking to devise a compact, profitable process for supplying biogas for domestic use. Pawar talked to manufacturers in his home county about how costs could be reduced to profitably serve the 800 million people in the country who cook using kerosene, wood, or charcoal.

“It’s a huge market,” Pawar said, “but people’s salaries are very low.”

Pawar eventually found his answer from a solar power company in India. He adapted a model for offering consumers financing, and incorporated it into his business plan. When the course was complete, he brought his plan to the New York State competition, and took it all the way to Albany, where the finals were held on April 28.

“Even the guy who won thought I was going to win,” Pawar said, “but I didn’t have anything to show [in terms of real results].”

While he didn’t win the big prize, Pawar got what he was looking for: an indication that his plan is feasible. Now, as he completes his MBA studies at LIU Brooklyn, Pawar is focused on building the career experience that will empower him to make his business plan a reality.

“I want to gain some corporate experience,” Pawar said, “and gather the finances to do this.”