Student Entrepreneurship Competition Awards $8,500 in Prize Money and Resources to Help Students Launch Their Own Business
NEW YORK, NY-June 13, 2013 – Student entrepreneurs from New York City colleges and universities made their final pitches in hopes of becoming the winner of the 11th Annual SmartPitch Challenge. The Top 10 teams made their presentations on June 6 and the winner was Dwight Peters, an undergraduate Baruch College Entrepreneurship major who founded CrowdCases.com, a company that manufactures custom designed, limited edition iPhone and Samsung Galaxy cases to support nonprofit organizations fundraising for their causes.
Alon Hillel-Tuch, founder of Rockethub and one of the judges, said the competition this year was extremely close, with the top winners scoring only .04 points from each other. “A lot of the companies were really good at focusing on serving that local angle,” he said.
SmartPitch is a partnership of the CUNY Institute for Virtual Enterprise (IVE), the Lawrence N. Field Center for Entrepreneurship at Baruch College and IBM. The SmartPitch Challenge, which began Feb. 1, required student teams to participate in a series of workshops, mentor working groups and business plan development meetings that included the creation of 30-second video pitches about their proposed business. Baruch professors and industry professionals worked with teams to polish their business concepts and plans, gain access to resources, and receive support and advice.
The top 10 teams were invited to present their elevator pitches during the final event held on June 6 at the CUNY Center on East 42nd Street. The panel of judges included Eric Apse, a partner of IBM Venture Capital Group; Monica Dean, Director of Baruch’s Field Center for Entrepreneurship; Dale Grant, President of Grant Associates Inc, a national workforce development company; Cristian Ossa, Angel Investor and co-founder of GiftCertificates.com; and Alon Hillel-Tuch, founder of Rockethub, an international crowd-funding service that lets entrepreneurs connect with their target audience.
The Top 5 winners received $8,500 (collectively) in prize money and were invited to participate in a virtual business incubator that provides resources to help launch their businesses. The incubator includes: a two-day entrepreneurship boot camp, incubator space, expert IBM mentorships, an opportunity to fundraise through Rockethub, access to the entrepreneurship network in virtual and real space, and access to stipends and angel investors. The top 5 winners were selected based on their business plan, creativity and ability to meet the need of consumers.
The TOP 5 WINNERS ARE:
1ST PLACE (awarded $5,000)
CrowdCases.com: a B2B style company founded by Baruch undergraduate Entrepreneurship major Dwight Peters, of Co-op City in the Bronx, that manufactures custom designed, limited edition iPhone and Samsung Galaxy cases. Each week, designers can submit their custom designs to support a nonprofit organization fundraising for a cause. The winning design (voted on through social media) will receive a cash prize and will get their design manufactured. CrowdCases donates $7 for each iPhone or Galaxy case sold to the nonprofit organization. To date, 300 designers have signed up and he is accepting applications for nonprofit organizations. The site plans to expand to include case designs for kindle and other tablet cases.
2nd PLACE (awarded $2,500)
Sohha Greek Yogurt: Made from a family recipe featuring sea salt, cultures and the highest quality milk rich in omega-3 fatty acids, this Greek yogurt is savory in taste and offers an alternative to other popular high-sugar Greek yogurts. It does not contain any genetically modified ingredients. Baruch MBA student John Fout plans to combine the yogurt with vegetables and other savory toppings like spices and nuts, as is popular in Mediterranean countries, and introduce this to the U.S. market. Sohha Greek Yogurt is made from a yogurt plant in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. It is available in local farmers markets in Park Slope, Bushwick, and Morningside Heights. Fout plans to distribute the yogurt to specialty stores in NYC or for purchase via mobile app for next day delivery in New York City.
3rd PLACE (awarded $1,000)
GetKosher.com: a user-friendly website founded by Baruch undergraduate finance student Morris Sued that makes it fast and easy to get delivery from kosher restaurants. Initially launched in Brooklyn, GetKosher.com offers service from 30 Midwood, Brooklyn area kosher restaurants. Launched six months ago, GetKosher.com has received approximately 500 orders and has received wide promotion through social media and blogs. The website offers restaurants a more cost effective delivery service and a more reliable way of ordering kosher food for the general public. Morris plans to expand to Queens, the Five Towns area and Manhattan. By offering its own delivery service, GetKosher.com will also be able to sell its own products, such as beverages and snacks.
4th PLACE (receives access to the virtual business incubator)
Coufsa: Baruch undergraduate finance major Eli Attias, from Lawrence, Long Island, created Coufsa, a service that will partner with shipping companies such as Fedex or UPS to offer retailers a way to advertise and offer coupons utilizing the blank spaces on packages sent to a targeted list of consumers by zipcode. Coufsa will offer an integrated and online system where advertisers will be able to check, scan, and print the advertisements that are most relevant to the consumer in that zipcode. The shippers will then be able to check where the packages are going, which retailer sent the package, and which advertisement was put on. Advertisers will pay Coufsa, and Coufsa will pay the shippers on a per package basis. Coufsa’s goal is to have advertisers in every zip code connect with retailers from across the country.
5th PLACE (receives access to the virtual business incubator)
Outdoor Project: Started by Ronald Zorrilla, a Baruch undergraduate finance major of College Point, Queens, Outdoor Project is a 501c (3) nonprofit organization that will partner with the NYC public school system, as well as religious and cultural institutions to offer children between 3rd -8th grade experiences in the great outdoors. The organization already has existing partnerships with the National Park Service and Alley Pond Environmental Center. The organization offers two programs: NYC Explorers, which creates new park stewards by involving NYC youth to care for their local parks, and Urban Trailblazers, which offers hike experiences or camping trips to Northeast forests. The program will be offered to cultural and religious organizations for a fee. The goal is to promote a healthy, active lifestyle and help children learn more about their environment. The organization will focus on NYC youth whose families are below the poverty line.
The CUNY Institute for Virtual Enterprise (IVE) was a pioneer when it launched a social networking platform to provide virtual mentoring and resources for student entrepreneurs in 2007. To learn more about the SmartPitch Challenge, visit http://www.ive.cuny.edu/index.php.
About Baruch College:
Baruch College is a senior college in the City University of New York (CUNY) with a total enrollment of more than 17,000 students, who represent 160 countries and speak more than 100 languages. Ranked among the top 15% of U.S. colleges and the No. 5 public regional university, Baruch College is regularly recognized as among the most ethnically diverse colleges in the country. As a public institution with a tradition of academic excellence, Baruch College offers accessibility and opportunity for students from every corner of New York City and from around the world. For more about Baruch College, go to http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/.