Entrepreneur Pitch Contest Praises Students

By Nicholas Da Silva, Contributing Writer

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Sixteen students teams presented their pitches in University Hall. Photo credit: Nicholas da Silva
Sixteen students teams presented their pitches in University Hall.
Photo credit: Nicholas da Silva

Some of Montclair State University’s hardest working students were celebrated at the third annual TeleBrands Inventors Day for Aspiring Entrepreneurs event — held on May 4 in the Conference Center at University Hall.

The event, which took place from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., had 16 teams of students who have completed the nine-credit Certificate of Entrepreneurship (which consists of ENTR 201, 301 and 302 students) competing for the opportunity to win a $10,000 prize by presenting the best sales pitch to two different groups of judges.

Jason Frasca, an Entrepreneurship professor at Montclair State, praised the students for putting so much time and effort into coming up with what he believed to be fantastic Minimum Viable Products (MVP’s). Frasca discussed his belief that the event serves as a vital means of getting students the experience of a simulated business pitch.

“This event allows students to justify the legitimacy of their jump-start,” Frasca said. “It gives them the opportunity to jump-start their business ideas.”

The contest began with all 16 groups having to give their sale pitches to the judges who were assigned for the Preliminary Round. These judges were co-owners and principals of SPARK Solutions for Growth: Rachel Braun, Scherlff Venture Capital associate; Andrew Kangpan, uReach Technologies Inc. co-founder and serial entrepreneur; and Mukesh M. Patel, Krishnamurthy Kambhampati and JuiceTank founder.

The ideas presented by the groups varied from diapers that neutralized the odor of fecal matter to a dating website that tries to find a user’s special mate through their zodiac sign.

All of the pitches were grounded in the basis of having to solve some sort of problem that people face in everyday life. Dennis Bone, the Founding Director of the Feliciano Center for Entrepeneurship, talked about the urgency of having to figure out a solution to a dilemma in this competition.

“The number one priority is problem solving,” Bone said. “It is up to the students to figure out how to solve the problem.”

Nicholas Castano, a sophomore sports business administration major with a concentration in sports events and tourism marketing, was part of the team that pitched Atlas — a website designed to promote artists who have been struggling on other forms of social media.

Castano talked about how being part of this was rewarding for him. It gave him background experience for business endeavors he could be a part of in the future.

“This event opens you up to bigger opportunities,” Castano said. “It prepares you for the real world.”

After the 16 groups went up, the judges left to deliberate their votes while additional awards were given out. The first of these awards was the $5,000 Promise Prize— an award given to African American students in the field of entrepreneurship or business who have showcased outstanding academic achievement, leadership and initiative for what they want to do.

The Promise Prize is a tribute to Marie Nesbitt, the grandmother of the Change Create Transform Foundation’s founder, Vikki Pryor. The winner of the 2016 Promise Prize was Stanley Fils, a Montclair State graduate who is now pursuing his MBA degree at the college. He was given the award by previous recipient Dana LaCondre and CCTF Founder Pryor.

Frasca and fellow professor Ross Malaga gave out entrepreneurship certificates to the students who were part of the 16 teams, dependent on their respective classes.

Judges then returned to make the announcement as to which six teams would make it to the final round of the event.

The first pitch that made it to the final round was Wake Em’ Up, an alarm clock pillow that wakes you up by producing light, music or a gentle motion.

The second pitch was Karuda Skincare, which consists of a variety of skincare products in which the primary substance used to create these products is coconut oil.

The third pitch was Trash Talk, which is a device you attach to a trash can that would make a beeping noise every time you threw some trash in the can.

The fourth pitch was the PhiloStand, which is a stand that can hold a wine glass in it by having the bottom of the glass embedded in the stand.

The fifth pitch was Layrd, a multilayered garbage bag that can provide people with multiple bags of garbage through just one bag. The Layrd garbage bag works by applying the bag to a trash can, rip one layer off the bag and it serves as a garbage bag itself.

The final pitch was Park Along, a website where you can reserve a parking spot for a specific location in advanced time.

In the finals, the remaining six teams had to perform their pitch presentations again, this time to a different group of judges.

After all six pitches were presented, the judges left to deliberate which team would be the winner of $10,000. When talking about his feelings while awaiting the decision from the judges, Trash Talk team member Nicholas Capece claimed that he did not feel nervous at all.
“The experience was what was truly important,” Capece said. “The victory is just a bonus to me.”

The time then came for the judges to announce their decision. Wake Em’ Up ranked in third place, while Layrd ranked in second. The winner of the $10,000 prize was Karuda Skincare.

The three teams all went to the stage to be honored, while the members of the victorious Karuda Skincare pitch took pictures with the judges and their brand new $10,000 check.

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