The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

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New business ideas presented and judged at BizPitch Competition

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Kara Washington / WVIA

On April 8th, Bucknell’s 12th annual Shark Tank-style pitch competition exemplified students’ business endevours. These student created ideas ranged from medical devices aimed at providing comfort for users, advancements in agriculture and sustainable consumer products.

BizPitch is an opportunity for Bucknell students to explore their business ventures and launch their enterprises with advice from entrepreneurial experts on campus. 

This year, there were 24 applicants and a total of 38 students who applied to the competition. In the end, there were five finalist teams with six students, who shared their innovative startup concepts in front of three judges. 

This year, Bucknell invited two university alumni. The first was Sam Nana-Sinkham ’10, the Founding Partner of Third Place, a firm investing in innovative opportunities to build sustainable farming systems. Additionally, Nancy Payne Bruns ’88, the chairman of the Board of the John L. Dickinson Family Holding Company, managing assets and growing business in West Virginia, was also invited as a judge. 

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Bucknell also invited Carol Lee Mitchell, who is a parent of a current Bucknell student and who is also a Managing Director and Head of Strategy for Small Business and Specialty Banking and Lending at Bank of America, to be a judge.

Throughout the hour, the competition was hosted by the Director of the Small Business Development Center, Steven Stumbris. 

Finalists

The first innovation on the docket was EcoMark, presented by Brooke Barry ’26 and Mikey Brandt ’26. They explained their biodegradable, sustainable whiteboard marker, dubbing it “The Truly Erasable Marker”. They presented evidence of the waste that accumulated over something so popular such as a whiteboard marker, and according to Brandt, “EcoMark is the way to get rid of that waste”.

Next, Ahmad Rehram ’24 presented an innovation to better help farmers feed people, giving the growing concern of overpopulation and overconsumption. “AgriSense Innovation” allows farmers to measure the health of the soil for smarter agriculture, as well as help with fixing irrigation systems to grow a “smart and sustainable future together”. 

Third on the list was an invention used to solve a common problem, especially with athlete safeness and comfort. “Face Guard”, presented by Colleen Kazanjian ’25, is the answer to those who suffer from acne, rashes, and other skin irritations as a result of consistently wearing headgear for their respective sports or jobs. It’s a hypoallergenic, disposable cotton insert that you stick directly into your helmet, pinstrap or goggles. 

After Kazanjian, an innovation was made to solve the impending and daunting issue of privacy in an increasingly digitized world. Graham Billington ’26 presented a personal anecdote that led him to develop “Privacy TL;DR”, a platform for business and consumers to better and more simply understand terms and conditions they are signing on too when they download apps by concising all the technological jargon into an easy-to-read summary. “The goal is to create a standard from business and consumers to promote clarity and transparency”, said Billington.

Last, but certainly not least, Lily Implicito ’24 presented her innovation “Truly Live”. As someone who had a cast years ago, and suffered from it, “Truly Live” incorporates a silicon and fiberglass design to fix this issue for those like Implicito. The cast is “breathable, washable and above all comfortable”. 

Results

Throughout the competition, the judges asked methodical and analytical questions, ranging from regulating the price of the product to market distribution to where they are currently in the process of innovating. 

At the end, Bucknell students vote on which innovation deserves the top prize, but also which is the “Fan Favorite” and “Change Maker”.

Total prize money this year was $20,000 and the top prize of $5,000 went to Colleen Kazanjian for her business, Face Guard. 

According to Kazanjian, “Participating in Bizpitch this spring has been a fantastic experience and I am so honored to be included in a finalist group with such incredible entrepreneurs. I was blown away by each team’s products and pitches. Not only is the competition a great chance to practice public speaking, it has provided a platform to showcase a project I am so passionate about with my community. I want to thank everyone who helped and supported me the last several months developing Face Guard. Excited to see what the future has in store!”

EcoMark won both “Fan Favorite” ($2,500) and “Change Maker” ($2,500). 

The next three finalists each won an $1,846 Bucknell Entrepreneurship Award. Additionally, this year there were five semifinalists, who each won $500.

BizPitch prizes are supported by the College of Engineering, the Freeman College of Management, a gift from Mike Maiolo, class of ’89, and an Anonymous gift.  

According to Strumbris, “Biz Pitch students have shown interest in sustainability in changing the world to be a better place that they want to live in, and I think that this year they have taken that concept to an even higher level. It’s all rooted in students of today being very mission-focused,” he added. “They have values that they are expressing in what they create for their start-up businesses.”

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