NEW YORK, NY-February 7, 2014 – More than 200 students from the City University of New York (CUNY), faculty and members of New York City’s business community attended the kick-off event for the 12th Annual IVE SmartPitch Challenge, hosted by Baruch College and the Lawrence N. Field Center for Entrepreneurship.
The Smart Pitch Challenge, created by the CUNY Institute for Virtual Enterprise, gives student entrepreneurs an opportunity to create and validate a business concept, pitch their idea and follow a business plan to ultimately launch their business.
The kick-off, held January 31 at Baruch College, included remarks by noted business entrepreneurs, educators and mentors: Dr. Stuart Schulman, Director of CUNY Institute for Virtual Enterprise; Dr. Myung-Soo Lee, Dean of the Zicklin School of Business; Dr. Edward Rogoff, Field Professor of Entrepreneurship; and Dr. John Clark, Acting University Executive Director.
The Verizon Foundation, the competition’s new sponsor, is providing a $60,000 grant to support this year’s SmartPitch Challenge, including $25,000 in prizes for the top five teams. Verizon will also offer mentors to provide infrastructure, marketing, and general business management support to the teams.
The best teams will be invited to present their concepts at the SmartPitch Event on June 5 and compete for $25,000 in prizes. The 1st Place team receives $10,000; 2nd Place receives $7,500 and 3rd Place receives $5,000, Most Innovative receives $1,500, and Audience Favorite receives $1,000. The top five winning teams will be selected to participate in a virtual business incubator ending with the launch of their concepts.
The incubator includes: entrepreneurship boot camp, incubator space, expert IBM mentorships, access to the entrepreneurship network in virtual and real space, and access to stipends and angel investors. The winners will also present their new businesses in the fall, 2014 and be recognized as IVE Fellows in a continuing support network.
A series of supporting events will be hosted throughout the challenge that will lead up to the formal SmartPitch Competition on June 5. At the kick-off Rolando Franco, IBM Executive and IT Architect, encouraged participates to take advantage of the mentoring, coworking sessions and social networking opportunities that are offered during the course of the SmartPitch Challenge.
Dr. Christoph Winkler, Associate Director of CUNY IVE, introduced this year’s keynote speaker Justina Nixon-Saintil, Director for Education of Verizon Foundation, who offered encouragement to this year’s participants.
Justina was followed by Professor Rifaat Foufa, Executive Director Social Enterprise, who presented his remarks via Skype during the event.
Anelissa Lauri, Community Manager of CUNY IVE, introduced the panel of students who either participated in past SmartPitch Competitions or who have started their own businesses through the support they received from CUNY IVE and The Field Center for Entrepreneurship.
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/.
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