Illustration of tablet, laptop, and mobile devices.

Students Nervous, Excited about May 6 Pitch Competition

TeleBrands-sponsored contest offers $10,000 prize to winning team

Posted in: Feliciano Center News

Feature image for Students Nervous, Excited about May 6 Pitch Competition

The 30 students vying for a slice of $10,000 in a contest May 6 on campus are feeling a flood of emotions as the big day approaches.

“I’m having mixed emotions about Pitch Day,” said Priscilla Ofori, a junior Mathematics major. “One minute I’m excited, the next I’m nervous, then back to excited. But I feel ready for this competition and I believe my team is as well.”

There’s a lot on the line to be nervous about. The Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship’s annual student pitch competition offers a $10,000 prize to the winning team of students who convince the judges that their business idea is the most viable of the 10 concepts presented.

The TeleBrands Inventors Day for Aspiring Entrepreneurs is sponsored by AJ Khubani, a Montclair State alum and member of the School of Business Advisory Board who is CEO and President of TeleBrands, the company famous for its “As Seen on TV” logo.

The competition is 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., May 6, in the University Hall 7th floor conference center. The event is free, and pizza will be served around the halfway point. The judges for the contest are: Randy Jackson, former television music competition judge; Khubani; Todd Pettengill, co-host Todd & Jayde Show on WPLJ, 95.5 FM; and Anthony “Sully” Sullivan, TV pitchman for OxiClean and more.

To register for the event—and be eligible for the raffle of 10 small door prizes—sign up here.

Brittni Landers, a senior Marketing major, is also counting down to the big day on May 6.

“My excitement for the pitch is overwhelming,” said Landers, a member of NoFloe, a team designing and developing an all-in-one winter automobile accessory for snow and ice removal. “My team and I have worked so hard on what we will be presenting, and we absolutely cannot wait to bring it to the stage. We are ecstatic to partake in the program and event. It is such a huge opportunity!”

Hard work has been the hallmark for all 10 teams. The students have been preparing to pitch for a full year while they have completed the Feliciano Center’s 9-credit Certificate of Entrepreneurship. During the three courses in the certificate, students brainstorm an innovative idea, validate/test the idea, and then learn how to market and pitch their product/service/app idea to customers. Each team is given seed capital—donated by Guy Falzarano, founder and CEO of Rainbow Academy—allowing the students to live a real entrepreneurial experience during the year. The students have been taught, coached and mentored by Professors Ross Malaga and Jason Frasca, as well as other university faculty/staff and classroom mentors from the region’s entrepreneurship community.

Ashley Zahabian, a sophomore Economics major, said she “appreciates the work ethic that we’ve grown to implement during the course of our journey.” Her team, ReminU, features a software and hardware system that uses a motion sensor to create reminders.

“We’ve been practicing more than 50 times … speaking to people to continue validating our product, and we’ve all been on the same page as far as having our eye on that $10,000 prize,” said Ofori, also a member of ReminU.  “We’re going for it and hopefully, we’ll be able to use (the prize) to further our product and make ReminU a name one will never forget!”

In fact, preparation for the pitch competition has become almost all-consuming for some.

“I am constantly thinking about our product, our team, what we are doing, and what we are not doing,” said Landers. “Besides class, my four-person team meets for three additional hours a week, at minimum. Of course, we often find ourselves doing research outside of the building (i.e. speaking with Gearhart Law IP attorney, David Postolski, or walking around Lowe’s analyzing our competition, etc.) In addition to our 9+ hours a week spent together, we consistently work from home. Our professors and mentors in the Feliciano Center are some of the most helpful people I have encountered at the school, and they do their best to connect us with whatever resources we may need.”

The students believe all the time and effort will be worth it if their team wins $10,000.

But even losing offers a big payoff, some students said.

“Our group has worked through so much adversity that even if we don’t win, we’re walking away with the knowledge and experience that will actually help us in the real world,” said Rami Mamary, a sophomore who has not declared a major yet. He is on the Sheeq team, which promises to “change the paradigm of shopping.”