Seven teams of entrepreneurship students vied in a pitch competition as the culmination of their studies to obtain a Certificate of Entrepreneurship from the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship.
The three students on the Shoeplex team won the contest, with each receiving a $100 Amazon gift card. The trio will also have lunch with a startup founder of their choice, as arranged by the Feliciano Center. Honorable mentions went to Liquidizer, a team that pitched a product to help organize liquid medication, and All Star Tailgates, whose team brainstorm was a combination cooler and beer pong table to use at tailgates.
The Dec. 15 competition was a preliminary round to participate in the Telebrands Inventors Day for Aspiring Entrepreneurs on May 6, 2015, when a $10,000 prize will be awarded to the winning student team. The annual pitch competition in May is funded by alumnus AJ Khubani, founder and CEO of Telebrands.
Shoeplex presented a product to keep shoes dry in the rain, with the slogan “The shoe cover that gets you from A to B wet feet free!” Shoeplex member Ashley Ormsby was surprised her team won.
“We competed against a lot of really great ideas, so to come out on top really shows that all the hard work we put into it paid off,” said Ormsby, whose boyfriend Andrew Suscreba watched the live performance in the Student Center. Ormsby shared the news with her parents by phone.
The pitch competition is the culmination of a certificate program consisting of three courses: ENTR 201 “Entrepreneurial Mindset and Innovation,” ENTR 301 “Creating Your Startup Business Model” and ENTR 302 “Preparing to Pitch and Launch Your Startup.”
Ormsby, a senior, said she grew a lot during the three courses. “I don’t feel afraid to talk in front of anyone anymore. We were presenting all semester, so I’ve grown from that. I feel like I can present in front of anyone now.”
“This is something not many people get to experience while they are in college,” said Ormsby about the entrepreneurial experience she lived in the three ENTR courses. “When I talk about college in 20 years, this is what I’m going to tell people about it. This was definitely life-changing for me.”
A second team member was Katie Sferra, a senior Anthropology major.
The third Shoeplex team member, Jonathan Maldonado, said the ENTR courses “taught me to think out of the box, literally” and the professors in ENTR 301 and 302, Dr. Ross Malaga and Jason Frasca, “give you real-world advice.” Maldonado, a junior athletic training major, said the courses will help him someday open his own business as a nutritionist and massage therapist.
“It’s the mentality of an entrepreneur,” said Maldonado about what he learned in the ENTR courses, adding that he now “instinctively” uses the skills from class to solve problems in all areas of his life. “It makes you believe that whatever you come up with can be possible.”
And Maldonado is confident that Shoeplex has a shot at the grand prize in the May Telebrands Inventors Day for Aspiring Entrepreneurs.
“Ten thousand dollars is not far off after this, if we continue doing what we’re doing,” he said.