Contestants in the Stu Lieblein ’90 Pitch Contest are one step closer to making their startup ideas a reality, as 11 students representing seven teams move to the semi-finals. This year, 20 project proposals were submitted to the selection committee, a record number in the history of the entrepreneurial contest. In the coming weeks, the semi-finalists will receive mentorship and guidance refining their ideas through a series of workshops organized by the Centennial Center for Leadership (CCL).
“Several ideas are products that need a prototype for testing while others require substantial startup funds that they will apply toward items like leasing a storefront or developing an app,” says Associate Director of CCL Amy Forbes. “The selection committee had difficult decisions to make but they felt that these seven semi-finalists showed the most potential in terms of overcoming barriers and being able to execute a viable product or service.”
The Pitch is an entrepreneurial leadership contest that is designed to bring one idea to life through a $10,000 grant. Students propose, refine and pitch their startup, and are judged by a panel of experts on their creativity and viability in today’s marketplace. In recent years, winners have gone on to found a variety of organizations, ranging from a college prep company to an energy-efficient greenhouse initiative.
“It’s not every day that you have an opportunity to change the world, or to win $10,000 doing it. The Pitch is just one step toward keeping the entrepreneurship movement on campus constantly growing,” says semi-finalist Dominique DeRubeis ’18, who is teaming up with Angel Salas-Espana ‘18, to pitch an organization that would provide microloans to refugees in Jordan.
The full list of semi-finalists and their proposals include:
Maxim Zibitsker ’19 – “Aqua Salutem Technologies,” software to help lifeguards identify drowning victims faster. The system is designed to accurately locate swimmers and quickly alert lifeguards to danger.
William “Jasper” White ’20 – “Hillside Hydro,” a portable hydroelectric generator and power storage system that will that will allow campers to harness natural energy from the outdoors.
Sam Solomon ’17 – “Pizza Del Posto,” a farm-to-table pizzeria for downtown Geneva in which all ingredients will be locally sourced, and the pizza cooked in a brick-oven.
Gheorghe “Gyuri” Dragomir ’17 and Ato Bentsi-Enchill ’17 – “Qoopons,” a coupon distribution application that uses geo-location to present coupons offered by retailers in “confined” spaces, such as airports, colleges, college towns, stadiums, concert arenas and city submarkets.
Angel Salas-Espana ’18 and Dominique DeRubeis ’18 – “Rabit Microfinance Initiative (RFMI),” an organization that would provide microloans to refugees in Jordan’s Zaatari camp, providing credit to growing business initiatives and empowering individuals to pursue opportunities that also develop their financial literacy and business management experience.
Madison Schmalz ’17, Taylor Lopez-Balboa ’17 and Natasha Jewett ’17 – “SageRides,” a service and ride-sharing app that provides safe and efficient rides for college students.
Carlyle Klein ’17 – “The Wash Wheel,” a product that efficiently transfers laundry from the washing machine to the dryer.
The 2017 Stu Lieblein ’90 Pitch Contest will be held on Thursday, March 2, 2017 in the Vandervort Room of the Scandling Campus Center.