BizPitch is an entrepreneurial contest for students created and administered by the University’s Small Business and Development Center (SBDC). The competition provides business-minded students with a remarkable opportunity to challenge themselves by working in a cooperative and cohesive group and developing an original, effective, and innovative business model to present to a panel of alumni. Six groups of University students were selected to compete in the final round on Nov. 15.
Bird’s Eye Photography
Bird’s Eye Photography consists of the duo Kavi Mathur ’17 and Steve Hladczuk ’17. They pitched the idea of an aerial photography service that utilizes drones with HD cameras to survey construction, real estate, and infrastructure sites from a bird’s eye view. This idea emerged from a passion for flying planes, helicopters, and experimenting with drone technology, as well as the potential to expand the use of drones from a hobby to a practical and original business idea. Both Mathur and Hladczuk are receiving their licenses in drone flying and plan to test their product on a construction site in Pittsburgh. Their incentive for reaching the real estate market in particular stems from the difficulty of viewing real estate and property from ground level in photographs.
RaveIn is composed of Jack Buendia ’19, Teddy Dumbauld ’19, and Jake Dunlop ’18. RaveIn is a location-based music service with the goal of revolutionizing the concept of the campus radio station. RaveIn would create a user-friendly, contemporary app allowing college students to listen in and contribute their favorite music. The app features continuous feedback including an “up-vote” and “down-vote” system which would tailor the music to each individual’s style and preference. RaveIn would generate a community of music listeners within a genre and serve as an innovative way to share music within an enclosed community. RaveIn seeks to expand to more college campuses across the country.
Search Party, composed of Levi Adair ’18, Sami Golaski ’18, Michael Driesen ’18, Reid Sanchez ’18, and Tomas Salaverria ’18, pitched the idea of an app-based version of a lost and found. This business idea involves sticking company-provided tags onto valuable items such as cell phones, wallets, sunglasses, and keys, and then registering these with the app. If somebody finds the lost item and wishes to return it to the original owner, they need only tap the tag to their phone, instantly sending a notification to the owner that their item has been located. A primary concern of this business venture is that it is difficult to think about losing an item before it happens. However, Search Party has considered multiple strategies to address this, including handing out a few free tags to first-years during orientation. This way, the brand will have a place among students early on. Additionally, they may advertise the tags around campus.
This duo pitched an app with the purpose of promoting and discovering events around campus. The app will serve as a platform that reaches the entirety of campus, rather than only selected groups. On college campuses, events are often meant for the entire student body but struggle to get the word out to all students. William Szamosszegi ’18 and Lucas Gregory ’18 have endeavored to create a social media presence for their business by promoting themselves on Instagram and Facebook and by networking with University students. The team explains that while Facebook or other social media sites may be their competitors in terms of advertising events, TurnUh is unique in that providing information and alerts about campus events is its sole purpose, and it will not be drowned out by other posts and notifications.
Chris Shadek ’18 pitched an app called Vega Connected, which serves a similar purpose to TurnUh. Vega Connected informs users about the events going on around them. Differentiating itself from apps like TurnUh in the sense that it is not limited to college campuses, Vega Connected focuses on promoting social gatherings for young people at bars, restaurants, and other businesses. Vega Connected launched in Lewisburg and Philadelphia, and has already experienced success through a following that has helped support local businesses like Bull Run Tap House and Pizza Phi.
Eduru is an app designed to provide students with a marketplace to buy and sell items and services. The company includes Luke Liprando ’18, Alexa Presto ’17, Troy Glenn ’17, Sam Schrenker ’18, and Macallan Atkins ’18. Their idea stems from the fact that many people on college campuses offer services like laundry, cleaning, tutoring, and designated driving, yet no sufficient platform exists for these students to spread their names around campus. The group compares their business to Craigslist, while emphasizing that Eduru is user-friendly, contemporary, and exclusive to college students. “BizPitch was such an amazing experience for the Eduru Team. Pitching to a panel of alumni judges provided insight to the entrepreneurship world, and we received a lot of feedback that we look forward to implementing in the coming weeks,” Schrenker said.
And the winner is…
The final event for BizPitch was held in the Terrace Room from 5-7 p.m. on Nov. 15. Each company gave a brief presentation of their product and answered questions posed by the panel of judges, who were all University alumni who had entrepreneurial experience. Companies were ranked on a scale from 1-10 in the categories of clarity, comprehensiveness, feasibility, and “wow” factor. First place was awarded to Search Party, who won a prize of $2,000. Second place was awarded to Vega Connected, who won a prize of $1,500. Third place was awarded to Bird’s Eye Photography, who won a prize of $1,000. The fan favorite award also went to Search Party, while the Social Media Star award went to RaveIn.
Sanchez, of the winning team Search Party, explained that, “It all started when I lost my sunglasses and it just quickly grew from an idea to something more concrete and we thought we’d give BizPitch a go. We had no idea that we’d make it so far and I was shocked by how much support we received from all of campus and especially the Small Business Development Center… I highly recommend anybody [participate in] the competition just for the experience of working with the SBDC.” Next steps for Search Party include fundraising and continuing to work with the SBDC to solve this “common problem,” Sanchez explained.